AUSTIN — Florida guard Mike Rosario, who was benched by coach Billy Donovan because of ineffectiveness in the teams NCAA-opening victory over Northwestern (La.) State, responded with a season-high 25 points in Sundays 78-64 victory over Minnesota at the Erwin Center.Rosario, limited to 15 minutes against Northwestern State, connected on 6-of-9 shots from behind the 3-point arc in what he called a very emotional game because the fifth-year senior was so disappointed by his showing in Fridays NCAA debut.I just felt that in the first game I wasnt doing my job, Rosario said. I let my team down. So I was beating myself up about it and I was happy to come out today and get the job done. I wasnt really looking to score. But every time I have an open look at it, Im going to take it. And they were falling tonight.The 25 points marked Rosarios career high at Florida and the most since a 33-point performance during his sophomore season at Rutgers, where Rosario began his college career.Special momentFlorida forward Erik Murphy, a senior, is heading to the Sweet 16 for a third consecutive season as part of the first Gators team to make it that far in three consecutive NCAA Tournaments. Florida reached the Elite Eight the past two seasons before being eliminated.Murphy said making it to a third consecutive Sweet 16 is something special to be part of and the programs special. We all really care about each other and when theres a group of guys that really cares about each other, they can accomplish special things.Florida center Patric Young, a junior who has been part of all three teams, said: It speaks marvels about Coach (Billy) Donovan. Hes led this program to three straight Sweet 16s and Im just glad to be a part of this system.No job worriesMinnesota coach Tubby Smith, whose team lost 11 of its last 16 games before entering the NCAA Tournament, has been the source of job speculation in regard to his future at the school. After his team was eliminated Sunday by Florida, Smith asked if he had received any indication from school officials that his job status was tenuous. Smith said: No.Momentum-turnerAfter cutting a 19-point halftime lead to seven, Florida answered with a pair of 3-pointers to stretch the lead back to double digits.That was real deflating, said Minnesota guard Andre Hollins, who led the team with 25 points. It freezes the momentum and, personally, it was my fault on both of them. I helped when I shouldnt have [come] off my guy That was a mental mistake that I made.
Jimmy Burch, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @Jimmy_Burch