The Marquette Golden Eagles will look to earn their first trip to the Elite-8 since 2003 on Thursday. Standing in their way are the No. 7 seeded Florida Gators.
Florida (25-10, 10-6 SEC) made the Sweet 16 in convincing fashion, defeating 10th seeded Virginia and 15th seeded Norfolk State by a combined 60 points. The Gators shot 52.8 percent in the first two games and held their opponents to 31.9 percent from the field.
Leading the offensive attack is junior guard Kenny Boynton. The 6-2 junior guard leads the Gators in scoring at 16.1 points per game. He is also one of their best outside shooters, connecting on 42 percent of his long-range attempts.
Joining Boynton in the backcourt is diminutive point guard Erving Walker and freshman sensation Bradley Beal. Walker, a 5-8 senior from Brooklyn, N.Y. has been consistently inconsistent for Florida. Averaging 12.1 points and 4.6 assists per game, he failed to reach double-figures on 13 occasions this season and shoots just 4 percent from the field. Meanwhile he is capable of putting up 30+ points, as he did against Arkansas earlier this year.
Beal, a 2011 McDonalds All-American, has been huge for UF. A bigger-bodied guard at 6-3, 207lb, Beal is second on the team in scoring at 14.6 per game but leads the team in rebounding at 6.7 per game. He has averaged 14 points and 10 rebounds through the first two NCAA tournament games for the Gators.
In the frontcourt, Florida has a pair of double-digit scorers. Erik Murphy a 6-10 junior averages 10.5 points and 4.3 rebounds per game. Murphy has more of a face up element to his game and does not play much with his back to the basket.
On the other hand, 6-9 Patric Young is a terrific finisher around the rim. His length, athleticism and strength make him a tough matchup for any team. Young averages 10.3 points and 6.4 rebounds per game but hits 62 percent of his field goal attempts.
The Gators usually go with a nine-man rotation. Leading the charge off the bench is Rutgers transfer Mike Rosario. Rosario averaged 16.7 points per game in his sophomore season as a Scarlet Knight. This year he is playing just 14 minutes a game and is averaging 6.8 points per game.
The Gators don't have much size off the bench after loosing freshman Will Yeguete for the season. Casey Prather, a 6-6 wing averages just two points per contest while 6-10 redshirt freshman Cody Larson averages less than six minutes per game.
Look for the Golden Eagles to try and attack Murphy and Young on the inside whenever possible. Davante Gardner, a human foul magnet, could play a huge role in getting Young and/or Murphy into foul trouble.
Jesswein's 3 Keys to Victory:
-Get the ball into the paint. Buzz said last week that MU shoots 33% higher from the field in posessions where we have a paint touch than ones where we don't. Additionally getting into the paint means its much more likely we get Patric Young and/or Erik Murphy into foul trouble. They don't have much depth behind them.
-Transition defense. Not only will stopping the ball be critical, other guys have to be aware of their surroundings as they cannot afford to leave the other guards (or Murphy) open for 3 as trailers on the break. The Gators are good at making the three ball (26th in 3PT %) and we have to have them earn any good looks they get.
-Winning the turnover battle. I'm not so worried that Florida will pressure us into mistakes, rather the point here is that as the tournament rolls on each possession becomes more and more critical. So being able to take care of the basketball becomes paramount. Any turnovers we can force is a positive as well.
Florida Gators Projected Starters
•#11—Erving Walker—Guard—(5-8, 177, SR)—12.1 pts, 2.9 reb, 4.6 ast, 1.0 stl, 40% FG, 37% 3PT, 82% FT
•#1—Kenny Boynton—Guard—(6-2, 189, JR)—16.1 pts, 2.6 reb, 2.5 ast, 0.8 stl, 45% FG, 42% 3PT, 76% FT
•#23—Bradley Beal—Guard—(6-3, 207, FR)—14.6 pts, 6.7 reb, 2.1 ast, 1.4 stl, 0.8 blk, 43% FG, 33% 3PT, 77% FT
•#33—Erik Murphy—Forward—(6-10, 230, JR)—10.5 pts, 4.3 reb, 0.9 ast, 1.0 blk, 49% FG, 43% 3PT, 80% FT
•#4—Patric Young—Center—(6-9, 247, SO)—10.3 pts, 6.4reb, 1.1 ast, 0.8 blk, 62% FG, 60% FT
Off the Bench:
•#3—Mike Rosario—Guard—(6-3, 191, JR)—6.8 pts, 1.4 reb, 1.0 ast, 0.6 stl, 43% FG, 34% 3PT, 74% FT
•#5—Scottie Wilbekin—Guard—(6-2, 178, SO)—2.6 pts, 1.4 reb, 1.7 ast, 0.6 stl, 43% FG, 44% 3PT, 71% FT
•#24—Casey Prather—Guard/Forward—(6-6, 212, SO)—2.0 pts, 1.6 reb, 0.3 ast, 0.4 stl, 37% FG, 66% 3PT, 41% FT
•#34—Cody Larson—Forward/Center—(6-9, 231, FR)—0.5 pts, 0.8 reb, 46% FG, 40% FT
Marquette Golden Eagles Projected Starters
•#5—Junior Cadougan—Guard—(6-1, 205, JR)—6.5 pts, 2.2 reb, 5.4 ast, 1.2 stl, 40% FG, 25% 3PT, 70% FT
•#1—Darius Johnson-Odom—Guard—(6-2, 215, SR)—18.5 pts, 3.5 reb, 2.8 ast, 1.0 stl, 45% FG, 39% 3PT, 77% FT
•#2—Vander Blue—Guard—(6-4 200, SO)—8.5 pts, 4.4 reb, 2.6 ast, 1.1 stl, 42% FG, 26% 3PT, 70% FT
•#32—Jae Crowder—Forward—(6-6, 235, SR)—17.6 pts, 8.4 reb, 2.1 ast, 2.5 stl, 1.0 blk, 50% FG, 35% 3PT, 73% FT
•#0—Jamil Wilson—Forward—(6-7, 220, SO)—7.1 pts, 4.1 reb, 1.2 ast, 1.3 blk, 45% FG, 32% 3PT, 71% FT
Off the Bench:
•#4—Todd Mayo—Guard—(6-3 190, FR)—7.8 pts, 2.7 reb, 1.2 ast, 0.6 stl, 42% FG, 33% 3PT, 77% FT
•#54—Davante Gardner—Forward—(6-8, 290, SO)—9.6 pts, 5.4 reb, 0.7 ast, 0.8 stl, 57% FG, 76% FT
•#33—Derrick Wilson—Guard—(6-1, 215, FR)—0.6 pts, 1.2 reb, 0.8 ast, 0.6 stl, 38% FG, 47% FT
•#22—Jamail Jones—Guard/Forward—(6-6, 210, SO)—1.6 pts, 1.3 reb, 0.4 ast, 0.3 stl, 35% FG, 21% 3PT, 20% FT
•#10—Juan Anderson—Guard—(6-6, 210, FR)—0.7 pts, 0.8 reb, 0.2 ast, 0.2 stl, 39% FG, 67% FT
Check out our message boards for much more on the matchup with Florida
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