Florida may have had the experience of being in the Elite Eight for the third straight year, but experience wasn’t enough as Florida (29-8) never had a chance against the surging Michigan Wolverines (30-8) as Michigan rips the Gators 79-59 to move on to the Final Four.
A lack of execution in man-to-man defense to start the game put the Gators behind by 13 early in the first half as Florida could not stop Michigan’s role players; most of those 13 points came from tournament standout guard Mitch McGary. He had eight and Gator senior guard Kenny Boynton knows exactly why.
Thet Burke that Boynton mentions is guard Trey Burke who many regard as the best college point guard in the country and he continued his superb tournament play against Florida. After coming up clutch against Kansas on Friday, the sophomore guard struggled to score and still managed 15 points. He also led the team with seven assists. The .313 shooting percentage may have been the second lowest of the season, but Florida coach Billy Donovan sites Burke as the sole reason the Gators could not keep up.
Guard Nik Stauskas had his coming out party with a career and game high 22 points. Most of those points came in the first half as he went 5 for 5 from beyond the arc and 6 for 6 overall. An inexplicable foul by Casey Prather at the first half buzzer put Stauskas at the line as he made two of three free throws to put Michigan up 17 heading to the lockers.
Florida tried quite a few looks on defense to slow down the fast pace of the Wolverines, but everything Donovan tried just did not work. The two-time champion coach switched from 2-3 zone to man-to-man throughout the game; none of which brought Florida out of the double-digit deficit the team faced all game long.
Adding insult to injury, Florida turned the ball over at the most critical of moments. The team committed 15 while only forcing nine.
The Orange and Blue were also erratic at the three point line. For a group that makes .381 for the season, the Gators were only 2 of 10. Second leading scorer and first-team all-SEC member Erik Murphy was a big part of that; he ended his college career going scoreless from the field and 0 for 2 from three-point land. He did however have a team high eight rebounds. Donovan believes the team needed to play fundamental basketball; more stops and more points in the paint.
The only players in double figures for Florida were Kenny Boynton and Will Yeguete. They each had 13 points. Boynton ends his collegiate career as Florida’s all-time leader in threes made and second in school history in total points.
Florida’s season now comes to a close as question marks remain heading into next season. The Gators will lose Boynton, Murphy and Mike Rosario to graduation. Center Patric Young is considered a second round draft choice on many boards, but hasn’t fully developed into the player many believe he is capable of being. However, the team does have two top recruits in Kasey Hill and Chris Walker. Maybe, just maybe, next season this team will get their first taste of the Final Four since winning it all in 2007.