Found March 23, 2013 on Fox Sports Florida:
AUSTIN, Texas -- They were aware of what happened late Thursday night when Harvard, the No. 14 seed in the West Region, knocked off No. 3-seed New Mexico. By the time the Gators took the court Friday night, they were aware that No. 13-seed LaSalle upset No. 4-seed Kansas State, a team Florida lost to in the regular season, earlier in the day. And as the Gators opened a huge lead in the second half of their 79-47 win over Northwestern State, a few of them noticed heavy underdog Florida Gulf Coast, a No. 15 seed, leading No. 2-seed Georgetown when the game was put on the large video board here above the Erwin Center court. The Gators knew March Madness had truly arrived. Unlike some others, they didn't stumble in their first dance of the NCAA Tournament. The streaking Demons managed to keep the game interesting in the first half, trailing by only eight points (40-32) at the break. But a 16-0 run in the second half and a stifling defense allowed the Gators to pull away for a 32-point win. The second-half surge also allowed Gators coach Billy Donovan a chance to empty the bench in the final minutes instead of frantically calling timeouts trying to overcome a huge upset. "I'm just glad we took care of business and we did it in a great way as a team, playing great defense," said junior center Patric Young, who finished with 16 points and nine rebounds. "I'm just happy we're in here smiling and not crying." The Gators and their fans have shed tears over the years as an upset victim early in the tournament, most notably a loss to Manhattan in the first round nine years ago. While some speculated that Northwestern State and its high-potent offense -- the Demons entered leading the nation in scoring -- might wear down the Gators and create the ingredients for an upset, nothing close to that materialized. Florida held the Demons to 15 points in the second half and 34 points below their season average. That's defense with a capital D. "If you don't take care of business now you are going home," junior guard Scottie Wilbekin said. "We've got come out in every game with that mentality." Florida advanced to face the Minnesota-UCLA winner on Sunday with a third consecutive berth in the Sweet 16 on the line for the Gators. The Gators (27-7) will once again be considered the favorite. But don't tell them that. "The seeding doesn't matter," said junior Will Yeguete. "You just have to come out and play. When the ball goes up, everybody has a chance. It wasn't an easy game for us. We can get better. We have to make sure we go hard from the get-go and go hard for 40 minutes." Donovan improved to 29-10 in the NCAA Tournament with Friday's win. His message heading into Sunday's game will be the same as it was going into the matchup with Northwestern State. Seeding really does not matter. You see it every year in the tournament, and in the first two rounds this year Georgetown, New Mexico and Kansas State -- all No. 4 seeds or higher -- have vanished. "I talk to them a lot about it," Donovan said. "Listen, it's amazing to me. Every year there are upsets, as people like to put it. I don't know why anybody's surprised any more. Everybody that's in this NCAA Tournament is a really, really good team. And if you don't play well, you are probably going to have a hard time winning the game."

Three Hits: Sluggish Gators advance to Round of 32

Who would have thought the Gators could beat Northwestern State by 32 and not be the most famous Florida-based team of the NCAA tournament? Of course, the new Cinderella darling is Florida Gulf Coach University, the fast-paced 15-seed that upset Georgetown in its first-ever tournament appearance. Things were a lot more predictable in Austin, where Billy Donovan's Florida squad...

Donovan Talks Wednesday

Florida head coach Billy Donovan talks to the national media as his Gators prepare for their first game of the NCAA Tournament against northwestern State. The third seeded Gators are coming off of two straight Elite-Eight appearances and his squad may have something to prove after a very good season but rough finish to the regular season and SEC tournament.

Florida Gators 79 – Northwestern State Demons 47: Gators Open NCAA Tournament with Big Win

The Florida Gators overcame a flurry of energy from the Northwestern State Demons to cruise to a 79-47 victory in the second round of the 2013 NCAA Tournament. The Gators advance to the third round where they’ll face the Minnesota Golden Gophers on Sunday, March 24 at 6:10 PM. The Demons gave the Gators all they had for the first 20 minutes, but it wouldn’t be nearly enough...

Bracket Gods shine down on the Gators, again

Browsing your bracket (assuming you haven't burned it already) you may have noticed that the Florida Gators drew a double-digit seed in the third round second round of the NCAA tournament. That might feel familiar, and if it does, it's because it is. The Gators began the 2006 tourney as a 3-seed, and played the obligatory 14-seed in the opener. Across from them, UW-Milwaukee...

Florida Gators’ entrance into empty Frank Erwin Center is awkward

The Florida Gators' entrance into an empty Frank Erwin Center for their game against Northwestern State in the first round of the 2013 NCAA Tournament was awkward, to say the least.

Gators geared for familiar style of play

Florida will face a familiar style of team on Friday night to open the NCAA Tournament in Austin, Texas. It’s the same tempo and speed the Gators see every day in practice. No. 14 seed Northwestern State wants to push the pace of the game and run the ball up the floor, but that isn’t a shock for Florida. The Gators will be trying to do the same thing.

Florida starts early on Friday

The Gators hit the practice field at 5:45 on Friday morning. The goal is to give players extra time off their feet before Saturday’s scrimmage, but it also gives the Florida coaches a chance to see how the players respond to that scenario. It’s early in the morning and cold on the practice field. Despite the elements Florida head coach Will Muschamp was happy with his team...

Pease optimistic about year two

There’s no one inside the Florida football program that was happy with the production under first-year offensive coordinator Brent Pease. This spring is aimed at finding answers. The early days of the spring have the coaches optimistic, but Pease expects improvement in multiple areas. The Gators expect to be more comfortable on offense in 2013, but it all starts with this spring.

Video: Easley returning with new motivation

Before the Gators pace the gridiron on game day, Dominique Easley’s famed staple rests tucked under his arm in the form of his beloved “Chucky” doll. This year, Easley’s motivation is actually just a bit bigger than Chucky — for now. The rising senior and defensive end says his drive this season lies with his 4-month-old baby boy: Dominique Earl Easley II.

Tubby, Donovan to meet again for round of 16 berth

Minnesota coach Tubby Smith knows his next opponent all too well. Six years after their last meeting in the Southeastern Conference, when Smith was still at Kentucky, he will coach against Florida's Billy Donovan again - this time in the Lone Star State with a trip to the NCAA tournament's round of 16 on the line. ''I'm pretty familiar with Billy Donovan,'...

Florida Gators vs. Minnesota Golden Gophers: Not Time to Look Ahead

The Florida Gators made it to the third round of the 2013 NCAA Tournament with little resistance. They arrive in that round facing a Minnesota Golden Gophers team they can’t look past. The Sweet Sixteen is within reach, but it’s not guaranteed; just ask Gonzaga and St. Louis. Billy Donovan faces a familiar foe in Minnesota head coach Tubby Smith. As you recall, Donovan and Smith...

FOX Sports Florida Girl Jordana Featured in Busted Coverage

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. What do Batman, Billy Donovan, Albert E. Gator and LeBron James all have in common?! Probably more than youd think. But, in this case, theyre all mentioned in FOX Sports Florida Girl Jordanas feature for Busted Coverages FOX Sports Girl of the Week. Each week, Busted Coverage will premiere a feature from each of the FOX Sports Girls and they decided to kick...

The Florida Gators Will

The title isn’t a mistake. I didn’t forget to go back and fill in my thoughts once I was done with the post. I really don’t know. You don’t know. The experts don’t know. President Obama doesn’t know. I’m basically trying to tell you that no one knows where the Florida Gators will exit the 2013 NCAA Tournament. We’re all guessing based on what we’ve seen over the...
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