The afternoon before the NCAA berths were announced, Florida capped a perfect run through the Southeastern Conference when the Gators held of Kentucky for a 61-60 victory in the league championship game. Florida guard Scottie Wilbekin had 11 points in the victory and was named tournament MVP.
The Gators didn't look much like the NCAA tournament's No. 1 overall seed in their first South Regional matchup in Orlando's Amway Center. The 16th-seeded Albany Great Danes put up a fight, leading at times during the game's first 27 minutes. Albany center John Puk fouls Florida forward Dorian Finney-Smith during the first half.
Florida forward Casey Prather contributed 16 points as the Gators came on strong late to win the game 67-55. While the game indicated the Gators were the better team, it showed they would have to get much better — and quickly — if they have their eyes set on a third national championship in eight years.
In the Round of 32, Florida regained the effort and defensive focus it lacked in the second round. Florida guard Kasey Hill breaks away with the ball during the first half of the Gators' win over Pittsburgh.
The Gators held Pittsburgh to just one of its first 11 field goal attempts in the second half and cruised to a 61-45 victory. Pittsburgh forward Lamar Patterson goes for a basket as Florida guard Scottie Wilbekin defends.
Albert E. Gator cheers as excitement builds before the South Regional games begin in Memphis.
In the Sweet 16 game in Memphis against No. 4 UCLA, Florida guard Michael Frazier II hit five 3-pointers and finished with 19 points.
Florida guard Scottie Wilbekin added 13 points as the Gators beat UCLA 79-68 to advance to their fourth consecutive NCAA regional final.
"We just talked about it, and it's not enough for us," Florida senior forward Will Yeguete said after the game. "We have two days to get ready for a good team, and we're just going to go for it on Saturday."
Florida center Patric Young scores early against one of the tournament's Cinderella teams, No. 11 Dayton, in Saturday's NCAA Elite 8 game in Memphis' FedEx Forum.
Florida head coach Billy Donovan keeps the team motivated in the first half of the game against the Atlantic 10 tournament champs, who had eliminated Ohio State, Syracuse and Stanford to get here.
Florida guard Scottie Wilbekin Wilbekin struck for 23 points, knocked down clutch free throws and managed to close out the victory. He was named the region's most outstanding player.
Florida's fourth-year players — led by Patric Young (shown) and Wilbekin — continued to provide knockout punches, delivering the Gators to a 62-52 victory and a berth in the Final Four next weekend in Arlington, Texas.
Forward Will Yeguete takes his turn with the scissors cutting the net after the victory.
Florida teammates hold the NCAA regional trophy in Memphis, but the 36-2 Gators and winners of 30 consecutive games must go back to work be bet ready to meet Connecticut in the national semifinals next Saturday.