Atlanta • With just over 10 minutes remaining, top-ranked Florida found itself in a dogfight, looking very much like it could be headed for its first loss against a Southeastern Conference team.
Not to worry.
» No. 1 Florida 72, Missouri 49
» No. 4 Arizona 63, Colorado 43
» No. 5 Louisville 94, Houston 65
» No. 6 Virginia 64, Florida State 51
» No. 7 Duke 63, Clemson 62
» No. 8 Michigan 64, Illinois 63
» No. 8 San Diego St. 59, UNLV 51
» No. 16 Iowa State 94, No. 10 Kansas 83
» N.C. State 66, No. 11 Syracuse 63
» No. 12 Wisconsin 83, Minnesota 57
» No. 21 UConn 58, No. 13 Cincinnati 56
» No. 14 Creighton 86, Xavier 78
» Pitt 80, No. 15 North Carolina 75
» St. Bonaventure 71, No. 18 Saint Louis 68
» No. 20 New Mexico vs. Boise State, late
» No. 22 Michigan State 67, Northwestern 51
» No. 23 VCU 71, Richmond 53
» No. 24 Ohio State 71, Nebraska 67
Scottie Wilbekin and the Gators suddenly turned this one into a laugher with one of their customary spurts.
Wilbekin and Michael Frazier II scored 15 points apiece, and Florida dominated down the stretch for a 72-49 rout of Missouri in the quarterfinals of the SEC tournament Friday, giving the Gators their 24th consecutive victory and likely erasing any question about whether they’ll be a No. 1 seed in the NCAAs.
Florida, as always, found a way to seize control.
As usual, it came down to defense and 3-point shooting.
"We’ve got a group that’s pretty cerebral and they’re pretty good at making adjustments," Florida coach Billy Donovan said.
The Gators (30-2) went 12-of-21 from 3-point range, making their final five attempts. And the swarming defense forced 14 turnovers, leading to 19 points.
The final score was hardly indicative of how it went most of the game. Missouri sprinted to the locker room on a high — tied at 29 after Ryan Rosburg’s buzzer-beating dunk — and the Tigers were still in it approaching the midway point of the second half.
But any thoughts of a major upset against the first team to go 18-0 in the SEC during the regular season quickly faded away.
Wilbekin made sure of that.
After Will Yeguete laid one in off a nifty pass from Kasey Hill, Florida pressed the inbounds pass, Wilbekin came up with a steal, then got free in the corner for a 3-pointer. Missouri missed at the other end, Patric Young connected on a short hook and just like that, the Gators had stretched a two-point lead to 45-36.
N.C. State 66, No. 11 Syracuse 63 • In Greensboro, N.C., T.J. Warren scored 28 points while Ralston Turner banked in the go-ahead 3-pointer with 2:28 left to help North Carolina State upset Syracuse in quarterfinals at the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament.
The seventh-seeded Wolfpack (21-12) blew a 10-point second-half lead but came through with two clutch baskets late to hold off the Orange (27-5).
Pittsburgh 80, No. 15 UNC 75 • In Greensboro, N.C., Talib Zanna had 19 points and a career-high 21 rebounds to help Pitts beat North Carolina in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament quarterfinals. James Robinson also scored a career-best 19 points for the fifth-seeded Panthers (25-8), who used a dominating start to build a huge lead before having to hold off a late rally by the fourth-seeded Tar Heels (23-9).
Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.