Florida kicked off the 2013 NCAA Tournament with a 79-47 win over the Northwestern State Demons Friday night in Austin, Texas. The game started in strange fashion as fans had to rush to their seats after only being allowed to enter the stadium five minutes before the opening tip-off. But as Gator fans ran to find seats, the Demons were busy doing some sprinting of their own as they ran up and down the court a majority of the first half, subbing in five man rotations every couple minutes. The unique fast pace style of play frustrated the Gators during the first half as they entered the locker room only up 40-32 on the Demons.
Billy Donovan was unhappy with his team’s first half performance but was pleased with how his team responded with a strong second half effort, “we did a much better job defensively in the second half. I think the game getting up and down, the floor opened the game up and we were able to get out in transition and we did a much better job in the second half of getting back.”
In the second half, the Gator players settled in and flashed their defensive prowess. After an up and down first 20 minutes, the Gators defense held the nations top scoring offense to only 19% shooting and 15 second half points. “We were just using what we do well. We were rotating to the right guy on the defensive end, getting back in transition, holding those guys to one shot, moving the ball on offense and taking advantage of the inside post,” explained senior guard Mike Rosario following the win.
The Gators length dominated the Demons, winning the rebound battle 43 to 26. In addition to their rebounding effort, Florida’s big men lead the way for the Gators. Patric Young posted 16 points and 9 rebounds and Erik Murphy was equally dominant working the post and block with 18 points and 8 rebounds of his own. Patric Young said on the effort by him and teammate Erik Murphy, “my teammates were able to find me and Murph and we just did a good job finishing.” The Gators will march on here in Austin and play Sunday, the winner of the Minnesota vs. UCLA game to take place later on tonight.