|ESPN.com: Dick Vitale||[Print without images]|
Florida coach Billy Donovan is well on his way to the Basketball Hall of Fame. And his Gators team has to be confident heading to the Sweet 16 in Memphis after beating Pittsburgh 61-45 for their 28th straight win. The last time Florida lost was Dec 2 at Connecticut.
Donovan is continuing to work on his resume, one that already includes two national championships and numerous SEC regular-season and tournament titles. Donovan passed Dale Brown for second on the all-time SEC win list Saturday, with Kentucky's Adolph Rupp the last man standing on top of that list.
The Gators are off to a good start in pursuit of national championship No. 3, and defense has been a big story for Florida.
|Billy Donovan has Florida on its way to the Sweet 16 and a possible third national championship.|
In the win over Pittsburgh, the Gators gave up just 45 points. It marked the ninth-straight game in which Florida held its opponent to 65 points or fewer. Pittsburgh shot 37 percent from the field.
Florida clamped down on Panthers star Lamar Patterson, holding him to one point in the second half and eight for the contest. That was well below his 17 PPG average.
Pittsburgh was held below 50 points for the fourth time this season. Besides Saturday's 45-point showing, the Panthers put up 43 versus Cincinnati, as well as 45 and 48 in losses to Virginia.
Scottie Wilbekin has developed into a star this season. He is truly a leader on the court, and he put up 21 big points, going 9-of-15 from the floor against the Panthers.
I also love the way the Gators handle the ball. Florida committed just one turnover in the second half Saturday and a mere six over the entire 40 minutes.
Patric Young & Co. did a nice job holding Talib Zanna in check. He was so tough against Colorado but was held to 10 points Saturday.
This Florida team has great experience, having been to the last three Elite Eights. The Gators want to go further this time around.