A 16-seed is still looking for its first win over a 1-seed. It looked for a while like the Great Danes might be able to do so against the top-overall seeded Gators.
A 39-39 tie about midway through the second half suggested there might be game. But Albany did not have the depth or the energy to withstand Florida’s press forever.
Eventually, the Gators simply overwhelmed Albany with their physicality and their speed to claim a 67-55 win in the second round of the NCAA Tournament and advance to face Pittsburgh on Saturday. Casey Prather scored 16 points and Patric Young had a double double with 10 points and 10 rebounds. Dorian Finney-Smith also had 16 for the Gators.
A 16-seed has never beaten a 1-seed in the NCAA Tournament. So it was pretty neat to see Albany give Florida a fight deep into the second half. The Gators could not quite shake the Great Danes as they could not stop their own foul issues. Florida and Albany were tied at 39 with 14:32 left in the second half before Patric Young collected an offensive rebound and dunked over a defender while drawing a foul. That gave the Gators and the partisan crowd in Orlando some energy. The Gators finally took a 10-point lead at the 9:30 mark of the second half.
Xs and Os
Albany seemed very capable of breaking Florida’s press and controlling the pace of the play. The Great Danes usually had the inbounder run quickly through the middle of the court allowing a quick outlet to anyone getting trapped. When they were able to pass the ball quickly, they could break the press and get to the basket.
Albany also settled into a 2-3 zone for most of the game, trying to eliminate Florida’s speed advantage. The Gators are not the best shooting team and they did shoot better than 50 percent for most of the game. But they were just one of their first six 3-pointers. That is something to watch with this Gators team.
“If we didn’t come here to win, we shouldn’t have gotten on that plane in Dayton and gone right back to Albany. A 16 is going to beat a 1 at some point. We wanted to be that team.”
-Albany coach Will Brown
“These guys are 33-2 and haven’t lost a game going all the way back to December 2. They’ve done a really good job focusing like they need to in front of each challenge that’s been in front of them. This wasn’t one of our better moments in terms of that. Now, it was good enough to win, but, like those guys said, is it good enough to play against a team like Pittsburgh? Probably not.”
-Florida coach Billy Donovan
–The announced crowd at Amway Center for Session 1 was 16,074. Most of those were wearing orange and blue and let their voices be heard as Florida pulled away. They never could bury Albany though.
–Albany guard D.J. Evans scored 21 points and grabbed seven rebounds to lead the Great Danes who were never out of the game and never afraid of facing the top overall seed.