(1) Florida Survives Early Scare from (4) UCLA
(MEMPHIS, Tenn.) — For the fourth straight year the Florida Gators find themselves in the Elite Eight. The 2014 overall top-seed in the NCAA Tournament survived an upset bid by fourth-seeded UCLA on Thursday, winning 79-68, to earn a spot in the South Regional final.
Michael Frazier, II hit five 3-pointers to pace Florida (35-2) with 19 points while Scottie Wilbekin added some clutch baskets to put the game out of reach late. A 36-30 halftime lead quickly expanded when the Gators hit six straight shots to start the second frame. When UCLA (28-9) pulled to within one at 56-55, Florida reeled off 10 straight points to take back momentum. The run was capped off by Wilbekin’s three-point play with 5:34 to play. The senior finished the day with 13 points.
As much as the second half offense contributed to the victory, Florida’s premiter defense was just as impressive. The Bruins were held to just 3-for-18 shooting (16.7%) from beyond the arc and 42.2 percent overall.
The Gators, who won a school record 29th straight game, are in the Elite Eight for the fourth straight year. However, Florida has not made it any further the past three seasons, losing to Michigan in last year’s regional final. The nation’s top seed will face 11-seed Dayton on Saturday for the right to go to the Final Four.
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