BY: John Mamola
The Florida Gators are headed to the Final Four for the first time since the 2006-2007 national championship year with a 62-52 win over the #11 seeded Dayton Flyers on Saturday in Memphis. Florida’s win is their first in the round of eight in the past three tries in consecutive years as the Gators school record winning streak continues at 30 straight games.
While the 11th-seeded Flyers already had exceeded many skeptic’s expectations going into Saturday's South Regional final, the Gators showed early that they wouldn’t let this Cinerella story last. The Gators were driven from the get go to ensure that this would not be the fourth straight year where the end of the road came in the elite eight.
The Gators jet out to a 7-2 run to begin the game as SEC player of the year Scottie Wilbekin once again showed how valuable he is as the leader of the Gators offense. Wilbekin led the Gators to answers for each and every Dayton run and finished the half with 14 points to lead the Gators. Florida pulled away from Dayton as they closed out the first frame on a 15-1 run and led by 14 at 38-24.
Dayton would never recover in the entire second half as Patric Young took over in the paint on offense and the defense held strong against the fast paced attack of Dayton. Young scoring a tournament high 12 points which is more points than he scored in the last two games combined (11 points).
Young also had six rebounds which was a key stat for Florida as they dominated the offensive glass with 12 offensive boards rebounds. Wilbekin finished with 23 points and Michael Frazier added 10.
DyShawn Pierre led the Flyers with 18 points as senior forward Devin Oliver added in 12 points and 6 rebounds in his final game at Dayton.
The Gators advance to the Final Four in Dallas, TX and will face the winner of the Michigan State/Connecticut matchup which will take place on Sunday afternoon. The game will tip off at a time to be determined later on Saturday April 5th.