College Basketball Nation: DeQuan Hicks

AUSTIN, Texas -- A quick look at third-seeded Florida's 79-47 victory over 14th-seeded Northwestern State:

On a day filled with double-take, bracket-wrecking scores, Florida -- while not exactly doing things at a breakneck pace -- at least managed to more than comfortably slide past Northwestern State. And, this time of year, that is all that matters.

While the Demons (23-9) were able to hang closer than many expected for the first 25 minutes by getting solid looks near the rim, Florida stepped up its defense in the second half, controlled the glass and started to hit 3-pointers. Florida shot 33.3 percent from beyond the arc to 18.8 percent for the Demons.

The Gators (27-7) had four players in double figures and were led by Erik Murphy with 18. Northwestern State, which substituted five players at a time, had nine players score but only one, DeQuan Hicks with 12, hit double figures.

Turning point: After keeping within arm's reach for the better part of 25 minutes, Northwestern State finally allowed Florida to slip to a double-digit lead. It started, as most things do when it comes to the Gators, with Kenny Boynton keeping the offense moving and getting to the line. Boynton's two free throws with 14:20 remaining gave Florida its first double-digit lead of the game. Murphy followed with a 3, and soon the Gators were able to build a comfortable margin against a team that could not produce the jump shots to keep up.

Key player: Murphy proved too difficult on the inside and out for Northwestern State. The 6-foot-10 senior went inside in the first half and followed that with a 3 in the second that keyed a 13-0 Florida run. Murphy finished 8-of-11 and had eight rebounds.

Key stat: Florida was able to dominate the offensive glass and, as a result, outscored Northwestern State 21-5 on second-chance points. The Gators' 13 offensive rebounds also forced the Demons to reach and foul on second-shot attempts, leading to 23 free throw attempts by Florida to 11 for the Demons.

Up next: Florida will play the winner of the No. 6 UCLA-No. 11 Minnesota game Sunday at the Erwin Center.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Florida’s defense is going to be tested immediately in the NCAA tournament.

The Gators earned a No. 3 seed in the South region and will play its tournament opener against No. 14 seed Northwestern State, which entered the weekend as the nation’s top-scoring team. The game will be played Friday in Austin, Texas.

The Gators (26-7), who won the regular-season Southeastern Conference title but fell to Ole Miss in the SEC tournament, entered the weekend third nationally in scoring defense (53.2 points per game allowed). UF has allowed just one opponent to score more than 66 points since a 67-61 loss to Kansas State on Dec. 22, 2012.

Northwestern State (23-8) won the Southland Conference tournament. The Demons entered the weekend averaging 82.4 points per game, but that number dropped to 81.0 per game after the conference tournament.

The Demons have four players averaging in double figures in scoring, led by 6-foot-7 forward DeQuan Hicks (14.1 ppg). Northwestern State also is pretty deep. The Demons have 10 players averaging at least 15.5 minutes per game.

Should the Gators get by Northwestern State, they face a potential third-round matchup with No. 6 seed UCLA (25-9), which plays No. 11 seed Minnesota. UF has won all three of its meetings against the Bruins, and all have come in the NCAA tournament. The Gators beat UCLA in the 2006 national championship game, in the 2007 national semifinals and in a third-round game in 2011.

If the Gators do advance to the Sweet 16, they could potentially face No. 2 seed Georgetown (25-6). That would be a rematch of the Navy-Marine Corps Classic aboard the USS Bataan at Mayport (Fla.) Naval Station that was never finished because of condensation on the court.

Numbers to Know: Monday recap

January, 8, 2013
Player of the Night - DeQuan Hicks, Northwestern State
Hicks scored 24 points and added 13 rebounds off the bench to lead Northwestern State to a 73-64 win over Sam Houston State. Hicks is second in the nation in scoring (14.6 PPG) and rebounding (7.1 RPG) among those who haven’t started a game this season. He’s doing all of that in under 21 minutes. Hicks leads the nation in points + rebounds + assists per 40 minutes.

Scorer of the Night – Jerian Grant, Notre Dame
Not every Notre Dame team had a rough Monday. Grant scored 14 of his 19 points in the second half, as the Irish picked up a 66-60 road win against Cincinnati. It’s the most points Grant has ever scored in a true road game.

Breakout Performance - Sam Rowley, Albany
Making his first career start, the sophomore went off for 21 points, 13 rebounds and four assists (all easily career highs). Albany beat Binghamton 71-59. Rowley filled the scoring void left by poor performances from Albany’s top two scorers (Jacob Iati and Mike Black) who combined to go 3-for-22 from the field.

Freshman of the Night - Deron Powers, Hampton
Hampton pulled off one of the more surprising wins of the night, topping James Madison 69-65. It’s the Pirates’ first ever win against the Dukes. Coming off back-to-back scoreless outings, Powers finished with 19 points and five assists.