TAMPA, FL - MARCH 19: Alex Tyus #23 of the Florida Gators celebrates on court after Florida won 73-65 against the UCLA Bruins during the third round of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at St. Pete Times Forum on March 19, 2011 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Chris Chambers/Getty Images)
I’m not entirely sold on the new Saturday format of the tournament, giving us only two games all afternoon, but thankfully we got treated to a dandy between UCLA and Florida, as the Gators prevailed late 73-65.
Perhaps a bit naive as to the abilities of the Bruins, I thought the Gators would walk all over Ben Howland’s club. But after 40 minutes found myself saying that the difference in the game were minimal. The most glaring difference? UCLA lacked depth.
The Bruins had opportunities to win this game despite being one scorer short of looking dangerous. Just looking at the box score (and not the pace-adjusted metrics) and it’s clear what separates these two clubs. Never mind that the Gators may be just a little bit better UCLA down low, and also just a little bit better on the perimeter – getting a combined 33 points from Erving Walker and Kenny Boynton. The real difference was bench scoring , as Billy Donovan got two of his bench players to chip in with 15 total points. Nothing overly substantial, but UCLA starters accounted for all but one measly field goal that came late in the first half from Anthony Stover. That was the difference in the game, and this more reliable rotation helped keep the Gators starters fresh from start to finish.
Read more about how the Gators are Final Four worthy, over at Beyond the Arc >>>