(MEMPHIS, Tenn.) — The number one team in the land has punched its ticket to Dallas. Top seed Florida edged out 11th-seeded Dayton to win the South region crown, 62-52, on Saturday night.
Scottie Wilbekin scored 23 points for the Gators (36-2) who won their school-record 30th straight game. Taking a 14-point lead into halftime, Florida had to withstand a late rally by the Flyers to reach their first Final Four since 2007.
A Dyshawn Pierre layup with 3:57 remaining made it an eight point game, but Dayton (26-11) made just one field goal the rest of the way, ending their Cinderella run. The Gators defense was key down the stretch as the offense mustered just five made baskets in the second half.
Despite not hitting a single field goal over the final six minutes, Wilbekin hit clutch free throws down the stretch to preserve the victory. The senior now advances to his first Final Four after losing in the Elite Eight each of the past three seasons.
Pierre finished the game with 18 points to lead the Flyers while Patric Young added 12 points, six rebounds and four blocks for Florida. The Gators now await the winner of fourth-seeded Michigan State and number seven Connecticut in the East Region Final on Sunday.
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Jill Martin, CNN
Eliott C. McLaughlin, CNN Newswire