The Florida Gators pulled away in the second half for a 79-47 win over the Northwestern State Demons in the second round of the NCAA Tournament in Austin, Texas on Friday night. Northwestern State’s tempo and pace flustered Florida at times in the first half, but the Gators got it going in the final twenty minutes and pulled away for the comfortable victory to advance to the Round of 32 on Sunday.
Florida led by just 8 points at the half, but used a 16-0 run in the second half to put the game away. The Gators flexed their muscles in the second half led by Erik Murphy, who finished the game with 18 points and 8 rebounds. Patric Young finished with 14 points and 7 rebounds, while Scottie Wilbekin and Kenny Boynton chipped in with 11 apiece as Florida got off to an impressive start in the NCAA Tournament.
This game was a battle of bests as Florida brought in one of the nation’s best defenses, and Northwestern State brought in the No. 1 scoring offense in the country. Florida stymied the Demons run and gun offense and held them to a season low 47 points. They came into the game averaging 81 points per game.
The Gators forced 15 turnovers and held Northwestern State to 36% shooting from the field and 3-for-16 from beyond the arc. DeQuan Hicks was the only Demon in double figures in scoring with 12 points.
The opener for Florida did little to dampen the confidence of many in the team’s ability to make a run in the NCAA Tournament. It also helps that their road got that much more easy when 2-seeded Georgetown was upset by 15-seeded Florida Gulf Coast.
Florida moves on to take on the winner of tonight’s San Diego State/Oklahoma game.
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