Posted: 4:38 p.m. Sunday, March 31, 2013
Florida repeated its Sweet 16 start against Michigan, but as it turns out, the Wolverines are a lot better than FGCU is. Instead of a third consecutive Elite Eight heartbreaker, the Gators lost a blowout to UM 79-59.
Poor play at the start from Florida was death against a sharp Michigan team, as the Wolverines jumped out to a 13-0 lead in the opening minutes. Patric Young picked up two quick fouls in the middle of that run at roughly two minutes into the game, immediately kneecapping the Gators' game plan. Erik Murphy still looked nothing like himself thanks to the flu, so that combined with Young's foul trouble meant that Florida couldn't attack Michigan's deficiencies on the inside.
Meanwhile on the other side of the floor, Florida's defense couldn't do a thing against Michigan's offense. UF came out in its customary man set, but Trey Burke sliced and diced the defense. Billy Donovan switched to a zone to combat Burke's penetration, but that allowed Nik Stauskas to get open for several easy shots. Stauskas began the game 7-7 from the field, including 6-6 from three, killing the Gators from all over the court. UM went into the half up 17, and Florida was never able to cut the lead to single digits.
Stauskas led all scorers with 22, while Burke had 15 and Mitch McGary had 11. Kenny Boynton and Will Yeguete each had 13 points for Florida. Murphy ended his career with a dismal 0-11 shooting day, grabbing eight boards but failing to score a point. Mike Rosario had nine in his final game, and Young, who might have played his last as well if he turns pro, had eight points and seven rebounds. Michigan only shot better than Florida by about five percentage points, but the Wolverines hit eight more threes, forced six more turnovers, and took nine more shots overall.
The Boynton-Murphy-Rosario(-Young?) era at Florida has ended with a third consecutive Elite Eight loss. This year's team was good together, but it lacked a standout player like what it had last year in Bradley Beal. Florida had a great season as the clear best of the SEC, and it will be back next year with a couple of good transfers and a good freshman class. For now though, the program must regroup and try to figure out why it has lost that special something that allowed it to break through to the Final Four in the past.