10:15 PM ET, March 27, 2014
FedExForum, Memphis, Tennessee
Gators finish off UCLA for 29th straight win, 4th straight Elite 8
MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- The Florida Gators are back where their previous three seasons have ended with yet another chance to go to the Final Four.
Being in the Elite Eight again, though, simply isn't enough.
Michael Frazier II hit five 3-pointers and finished with 19 points as the Gators beat UCLA 79-68 on Thursday night to reach their fourth consecutive NCAA regional final.
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"We just talked about it, and it's not enough for us," Florida senior Will Yeguete said. "We have two days to get ready for a good team, and we're just going to go for it on Saturday."
The Gators (35-2) also extended the best winning streak in school history to 29 straight in reaching the South Regional final.
"From a team aspect, I think we've done a great job of just staying in the moment and just trying to chase greatness," Frazier said. "When you do that, complacency isn't a factor, so I think we've done a great job all year of just staying in the moment and chasing greatness."
The tournament's overall top seed will play 11th-seeded Dayton on Saturday night for a trip to the Final Four. Dayton beat Stanford 82-72 earlier Thursday night.
"Right now we got to put this game behind us and get focused on Dayton," Florida senior Scottie Wilbekin said. "They're a great team. Everybody is at this point in the season, and so we got to be locked in and ready because it's going to be a battle."
The Gators lost to Michigan a year ago in a regional final.
"But it's a new team that we have, and we're playing a new team so it's a totally different situation," Wilbekin said. "We're just excited to get this win and move on to the next game. We're totally focused on that. The past has no impact."
UCLA (28-9) was back in a regional semifinal for the first time since 2008 under first-year coach Steve Alford. But the Bruins just couldn't match Florida's physical defense or outshoot the Gators. UCLA now is 0-4 against Florida coach Billy Donovan all time -- all in the NCAA tournament.
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"They played very well," Alford said of the Gators. "They are an outstanding basketball team."
Florida shot 50 percent (29-of-58) for the game, including 59.3 percent in the second half. UCLA finished at 42.2 percent (27-of-64) in only its fifth game scoring fewer than 70 points this season. The Bruins were a cold 1-of-12 beyond the arc in the second half.
Frazier showed off the Gators' shooting skills. He had hit only three of 13 shots beyond the arc through the Gators' first two tournament wins but hit five of his first six against UCLA.
The Gators led 36-30 at halftime and clicked on a different level in the second half. They hit their first six shots and eight of their first 10. Every time UCLA tried to make a run, Florida answered. First, it was Frazier hitting consecutive 3-pointers as UCLA pulled within 43-39.
When the Bruins pulled within 56-55 on a layup by Norman Powell midway through the half, Finney-Smith hit a jumper for the first of 10 straight points. The Gators had UCLA running up and down the court so much Adams couldn't even hit the rim with a jumper despite having an open look at the basket.
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Wilbekin finished off the run with a three-point play that had the Gators solidly in control, up 66-55 with 5:34 left.
"He hit two big shots down the stretch," Anderson said. "That's what you expect out of your senior point guard. He's been here in the Sweet 16 four years. He made big shots. Credit to him."
For all the talk of Florida's stingy defense, UCLA opened the game blocking the Gators' first two shots. The Bruins blocked only two more shots the rest of the game.
The Bruins came in as one of the nation's best scoring teams, averaging 81.5 points a game. Florida showed early it could shoot, too, hitting five of eight shots from beyond the arc in spurt that turned a 14-11 deficit into a 20-16 lead. Back-to-back 3s from Frazier put the Gators ahead to stay.
Every time Anderson got the ball near the UCLA basket, he found himself with at least two Gators trying to smother him.
NCAA Mens Tournament
MEMPHIS, TN - MARCH 27: Jordan Adams #3 of the UCLA Bruins goes to the basket as Casey Prather #24 of the Florida...(Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Around Champ Week
Deciding factor: Florida's complete team play. Scottie Wilbekin didn't get going until late in the game, but his teammates were there to carry the load. The Gators had four players score in double figures
Player of the game: Florida's Michael Frazier II. The sophomore guard caught fire from outside, making five of eight 3-pointers on his way to leading the Gators with 19 points.
Key stat: Florida controlled the tempo in the latter part of the game. UCLA had 23 transition points in the first 30 minutes but was held scoreless on the break in the final 10 minutes.
Team Stat Comparison
|FG Made-Attempted||27-64 (.422)||29-58 (.500)|
|3P Made-Attempted||3-18 (.167)||8-21 (.381)|
|FT Made-Attempted||11-15 (.733)||13-18 (.722)|
|Fouls (Tech/Flagrant)||19 (0/0)||15 (0/0)|
|» Mar 27, 2014||@FLA 79, UCLA 68||Recap|
Florida moves on to the Elite 8 in the south... this is their 4th straight trip to the Elite 8, tied for the 5th-longest streak in tournament history... these seniors have been there each year, but they haven't been to the Final Four yet, having lost the 3 previous tries...[+]
Most Consecutive Elite 8 Appearances - NCAA Tournament History
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