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Florida powers past Northwestern State

Austin, TX (Sports Network) - Erik Murphy scored 18 points on 8-of-11 shooting and grabbed eight rebounds, and Florida used a strong second half to cruise past Northwestern State, 79-47, in South Region second-round action of the NCAA Tournament.

Patric Young poured in 16 points and pulled down nine boards for the third- seeded Gators (27-7), who held Northwestern State to just 15 points in the final 20 minutes of play to move on to face either UCLA or Minnesota in Sunday's third round.

"I think one thing was we got back in transition a lot better and got matched up," Murphy said of Florida's second-half adjustments. "They were hurting us a little bit in transition. We just came together as a team and decided we were going to get stops and when we play together on defense, we play well. It's tough for teams to score."

DeQuan Hicks had 12 points and eight rebounds for the 14th-seeded Demons (23-9), who trailed by eight at halftime but struggled to slow down the Gators thereafter.

Northwestern State was appearing in its first NCAA Tournament in seven years after winning the Southland Conference Tournament title.

The matchup featured two of the nation's top offensive and defensive teams, as Northwestern State is known for a unique, 10-man rotation and up tempo attack which leads the NCAA in scoring with 81.5 points per contest. Florida, on the other hand, ranks third in the nation allowing just 53.7 points per contest.

After starting the second half with a eight-point deficit, Northwestern State scored four unanswered to get within 40-36. Kenny Boynton then kicked off a 9-2 swing -- en route to scoring his 2,000th career point -- to put Florida ahead by 11 with 14:20 remaining.

The Demons briefly closed the margin to eight, but the team's pace and style of play soon slowed down as the Gators took control with a 19-1 flurry to quickly alter the contest.

Scottie Wilbekin highlighted the end the run with a half court alley-oop slam to Casey Prather to make it 63-42 with 8 1/2 to play. Nearly two minutes later, Murphy's layup extended the margin to 26 and Florida never looked back.

"I mean we played a very, very good first half," Northwestern State coach Mike McConathy said. "In fact, I think we cut it to four right before the half and we lay it up and then we give them a lay up back on the other end. Something that we just haven't done this year. But the caliber of team that Florida is, you just can't make mistakes."

Northwestern State's struggles during the run were eye-opening, even for the nation's top scoring unit. The team went 6:28 without a point and just over seven minutes without a field goal.

The first half, as expected, was high-paced. The Demons hung around thanks to their tempo, and trailed, 23-21, with 10:25 to play. Florida then had a 9-2 spurt, capped off by a Rosario triple which made it 32-24.

Northwestern State closed the gap to four with just over two minutes to play in the half before Florida took a 40-32 edge into the break. The Gators scored 26 points in the paint in the half, while the Demons shot 54.2 percent (13- of-24) from the floor.

Game Notes

Florida is 5-0 all-time against current Southland Conference teams, including 2-0 in NCAA Tournament play ... Wilbekin and Boynton finished with 11 points apiece for Florida ... In the Demons' last tournament appearance in 2006, the team upset Iowa as a No. 14 seed ... Boynton needed five points for 2,000 in his career. He joined Ronnie Williams as the only Gator in that club ... Florida has held 13 opponents under 50 points and 24 to under 60 for the season.

03/23 00:17:44 ET

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Final
ECU 31
UCONN 21
Final
CHA 79
IND 88
Final
CAL 5
CAR 0
9:30pm Tonight
EDM
CAR
 
8:07pm Tonight
SFG
KAN
Final
CHA 79
IND 88
Final
DET 109
PHI 103
Final
NOP 88
DAL 85
7:00pm Tonight
ORL
DAL
 
7:30pm Tonight
TOR
NYK
 
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MIA
 
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SAN
 
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UTA
PHO
 
10:00pm Tonight
LAL
SAC
 
10:30pm Tonight
GSW
DEN
 
10:30pm Tonight
LAC
POR
 
Final
ECU 31
UCONN 21
Final
VT 6
MIAMI 30
7:00pm Tonight
CIN
SFLA
7:30pm Tonight
SALABAMA
TROY
9:00pm Tonight
BSU
BYU
10:00pm Tonight
CAL
OREG
Final
BOS 2
NYI 3
Final
DET 4
PIT 3
Final
MIN 2
ARI 0
Final
NAS 3
CHI 2
Final
STL 1
VAN 4
Final
CAL 5
CAR 0
Final
LOS 2
BUF 0
Final
SJS 4
CLB 5
7:00pm Tonight
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DAL
 
8:00pm Tonight
WIN
TAM
 
9:00pm Tonight
COL
VAN
 
9:30pm Tonight
EDM
CAR
 
10:00pm Tonight
ANA
CLB
 
Final
DEN 35
SDC 21