Wilbekin’s shot pivotal in turning momentum for Florida

Posted Saturday, Mar. 29, 2014  comments  Print Reprints
A

Have more to add? News tip? Tell us

Florida point guard Scottie Wilbekin made his share of shots during Saturday’s 62-52 victory over Dayton that sealed the Gators’ first Final Four berth since 2007.

Wilbekin buried six shots from the field and eight from the foul line while matching his career high with 23 points. But none resonated as loudly as his walk-off 3-pointer that capped a 15-1 run at the end of the first half and sent the Gators to the locker room with a 38-24 lead.

“That deflated them a little bit and inflated us,” said Florida center Patric Young, referring to the exclamation point in the Gators’ game-turning stretch.

“It was a big shot. It gave us a bigger lead,” Wilbekin said. “But I don’t think it demoralized them. They came back ready to play and fought through the whole 40 minutes.”

Dayton coach Archie Miller considered Wilbekin’s shot significant because it came at the end of the Gators’ pivotal run.

“Unfortunately, we were bad in a couple of spots,” Miller said. “A lot of it had to do with Florida. That’s a very, very good team.”

Rematch possible

Florida will play either Connecticut or Michigan State in next week’s semifinal game at the Final Four in Arlington. If the Gators (36-2) meet Connecticut, it would give Florida a chance to achieve payback from one of its two losses this season. UConn defeated Florida 65-64 during the regular season at UConn.

All-Regional team

Florida and Dayton each landed two players on the All-South Regional team. The Gators’ Wilbekin, who had a game-high 23 points and three assists Saturday, was selected as the Most Outstanding Player and joined teammate Michael Frazier, the Gators’ shooting guard, on the squad. Dayton forwards Devin Oliver and Dyshawn Pierce made the squad, along with Stanford forward Dwight Powell.

Leaving a legacy

Dayton coach Archie Miller said he was proud of his team’s run to the Elite Eight, the first by the Flyers in 30 years. Dayton, the No. 11 seed in the South Regional, finished its season 26-11. The Flyers were the lone double-digit seed to advance to the Elite Eight.

“It’s always hard to lose the last game of the season,” Miller said. “But in the back of my mind, I’m not sure a team in the nation probably captured more people’s hearts than these guys did. And they did it the right way.”

Improvement possible

Florida will head to Arlington for next week’s Final Four with a 30-game winning streak, longest in program history. The Gators, a defensive-oriented team, held Dayton to 39.6 percent shooting and won the battle of the boards 37-26.

But Gators coach Billy Donovan said improvement is possible before Florida arrives in JerryWorld, where last year’s season ended with a 79-59 loss to Michigan in an Elite Eight matchup.

“I think there are things that we can adjust and we can get better at,” Donovan said. “There’s always parts of your game that you look at as a team that you didn’t do as well as you would have liked.”

In particular, Donovan expressed displeasure that the Gators made only five second-half field goals while shooting 23.8 percent from the floor (5 of 21).

Briefly

• Florida earned its fifth trip to the Final Four. Four of the five have come in Donovan’s 18 seasons at the school.

• Dayton’s 52 points was its lowest total of the season. The previous low had come in a 79-53 loss to St. Joseph’s.

• Dayton guard Jordan Sibert, the team’s leading scorer (12.5 ppg), was held scoreless for the first time this season by the Florida defense. Sibert finished 0 for 3 from the field in 30 minutes of action.

Jimmy Burch, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @Jimmy_Burch

Looking for comments?

We welcome your comments on this story, but please be civil. Do not use profanity, hate speech, threats, personal abuse or any device to draw undue attention. Our policy requires those wishing to post here to use their real identity.

Our commenting policy | Facebook commenting FAQ | Why Facebook?





Tuesday, October 21Full Scoreboard
San Francisco «7Final | Box
Kansas City1Ballpark Replay
110th World Series, Game One. San Francisco leads series, 1-0.
Full Scoreboard
Tuesday, October 21Full Scoreboard
Houston85Final | Box
Miami «90
Indiana89Final | Box
Minnesota «107
Utah «105Final | Box
Oklahoma City91
Portland «93Final | Box
Denver75
Phoenix «114Final(OT) | Box
LA Lakers108
LA Clippers107Final | Box
Golden State «125
Full Scoreboard
Week 8Full Scoreboard
Thursday
San Diego 8:25 PM ET
Denver TV: CBS/NFL Network
Sunday
Detroit 9:30 AM ET
Atlanta TV: FOX
Seattle 1:00 PM ET
Carolina TV: CBS
Baltimore 1:00 PM ET
Cincinnati TV: CBS
Miami 1:00 PM ET
Jacksonville TV: CBS
St. Louis 1:00 PM ET
Kansas City TV: FOX
Chicago 1:00 PM ET
New England TV: FOX
Buffalo 1:00 PM ET
NY Jets TV: CBS
Minnesota 1:00 PM ET
Tampa Bay TV: FOX
Houston 1:00 PM ET
Tennessee TV: CBS
Philadelphia 4:05 PM ET
Arizona TV: FOX
Oakland 4:25 PM ET
Cleveland TV: CBS
Indianapolis 4:25 PM ET
Pittsburgh TV: CBS
Green Bay 8:30 PM ET
New Orleans TV: NBC
Monday
Washington 8:30 PM ET
Dallas TV: ESPN
Full Scoreboard
Tuesday, October 21Full Scoreboard
San Jose3Final | Box
Boston «5
NY Rangers «4Final(OT) | Box
New Jersey3
Toronto «5Final | Box
NY Islanders2
Detroit1Final(OT) | Box
Montreal «2
Arizona3Final(SO) | Box
Nashville «4
Carolina1Final | Box
Winnipeg «3
Philadelphia0Final | Box
Chicago «4
Vancouver3Final | Box
Dallas «6
Florida «4Final(OT) | Box
Colorado3
Tampa Bay «2Final(OT) | Box
Calgary1
Full Scoreboard