Guts and Guile Carry Gators to Elite 8

Florida couldn't control the tempo. They had to play Georgetown's game. Florida couldn't make many three-pointers. They had to get their points the old fashioned way, in the paint and at the line. Florida didn't do the job on the defensive glass most of the night, allowing a dozen offensive rebounds to the Hoyas. They had to tighten up late in the game.

The Gators couldn't do the things they do best… except win. Despite being held below 60 points for just the second time in 36 games, the Florida Gators outlasted the Georgetown Hoyas 57-53. It's interesting that while the Gators are an up-tempo team, they managed to win both games played in the very low numbers; the other coming in the SEC Tournament final.

The team everyone doubted in October evolved into the team everyone loves in March. They are the third group of Gators to reach the elite eight. They are the winningest Gators ever with a 30-and-6 record. And they are now 40 minutes from the Final Four.

Georgetown Made Them Earn It

John Thompson's Georgetown Hoyas executed their game plan extremely well. They controlled the tempo most of the night and kept the game in the fifties. They used a mix of perimeter skill and inside power to force the Gators to change defenses throughout the night.

I wrote in advance of this game that Jeff Green was Georgetown's best player and the 6'9" sophomore lived up to it. Roy Hibbert was solid inside, but the Gators were able to run him just enough to wear him down so he was no factor in the closing moments.

I thought Georgetown did a superb defensive job on Lee Humphrey, almost never letting him get comfortable with his shot. Still, Florida's junior sharpshooter made a huge "three" at the 2:21 mark to give the Gators the lead at 52-51.

Spiderman's Amazing Game-Winner

Corey Brewer is never dull. Whether he's flopping around all over the court seemingly lost or intensely guarding his man and picking his pocket, you know he's out there and you know you're going to watch.

This game had vintage Brewer moments, both good and bad. One of the best came in the first half on a spectacular steal and dunk that tied the game at 26. One of the worst moments came late in the game with the Gators up 49-46 and Brewer only managed an off-balance toss at the basket when a good possession could have been huge.

But he saved his best moment for last.

It looked like Brewer was tied up with two Hoyas after a Gator miss, yet somehow he came out with the ball and made an acrobatic shot as he was fouled, giving the Gators a 54-53 lead with 27.5 seconds to play. He added the free throw for a two point lead.

It was the kind of play that leaves you shaking your head wondering how he does stuff like that. It's also the kind of play he'll remember for a long time to come.

Rematch With Villanova Next

Heading into selection Sunday I felt the one team in the nation Florida would have the most trouble matching up with would be Villanova. The Wildcats beat the Gators in round two last year, but their four guard system and ability to run various quality defenders at Taurean Green is going to pose a tremendous challenge.

I suppose it helps that ‘Nova had to go overtime to win a ridiculously physical game with Boston College. It was the kind of game that leaves you battered and bruised the next day. It was also the kind of game that makes you want to throttle the guys with the whistles.

Still, Florida probably wants the officials to let it get rough come Sunday, because Florida (most likely) wins a game decided by the big men, and Villanova (most likely) wins a game decide on the perimeter.


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