College Basketball

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Northwestern State (23-8) vs. Florida (26-7)



Friday, March 22, 7:27 p.m. (et)

The Sports Network

By Nicholas DeLorenzo, Associate College Basketball Editor

FACTS & STATS: Site: Erwin Center (16,734) -- Austin, Texas. Television: truTV. NCAA Tournament Record: Northwestern State 2-2, Florida 35-15. Series Record: First-ever meeting.

GAME NOTES: Second-round action in the South Region of the 2013 NCAA Tournament continues on Friday night, as the third-seeded Florida Gators tangle with the 14th-seeded Northwestern State Demons at the Erwin Center.

The survivor will advance to Sunday's third round to play the winner of sixth- seeded UCLA and 11th-seeded Minnesota.

Northwestern State is celebrating its 100th year of men's basketball with its third trip to the NCAA Tournament after finishing the season with a 23-8 overall record and a 15-3 mark in the Southland Conference, capped off by a 68-66 win over Stephen F. Austin the conference tournament championship game. The Demons last made the tournament field in 2006 when, also as a No. 14 seed, they shocked No. 3 seed Iowa (64-63) to advance to the Round of 32.

Florida (26-7) earned the SEC regular-season title outright, and while it lost the SEC Tournament championship game to Ole Miss (66-63), its entire body of work was clearly the most impressive of any team in the under performing SEC, with a resume' that included strong non-conference wins over Wisconsin, Middle Tennessee and Marquette. Under head coach Billy Donovan, the Gators have been one of the tournament's most impressive teams, having qualified for the event 13 times in his 17-year tenure, while having advanced to at least the Elite Eight in four of the past seven seasons. Florida won a pair of national titles in 2006 and 2007.

This matchup marks the first-ever time these two squads have faced each other on the hardwood.

The Demons' calling card has been their high-flying offense, which shoots 46 percent from the field for 81.0 ppg -- ranking first in all of Division I. Despite making only two starts this season, DeQuan Hicks is the team's top scoring threat, pouring in 14.1 ppg on nearly 59 percent from the field while adding 5.8 rpg for good measure. Shamir Davis scores 12.5 ppg, James Hulbin nets 12.1 ppg and hauls in 5.9 rpg, while Jalen West puts up 10.3 ppg and is the team leader in both assists (5.2 pg) and steals (74). With Northwestern State's high-tempo offense comes vulnerability at the defensive end of the floor however, as it allows opposing teams to score 71.2 ppg.

The Gators are fortunate to have a strong offensive attack, scoring 71.6 ppg, but the biggest reason for their tremendous success this season has been their outstanding scoring defense, which allows a mere 53.7 ppg (third in the nation), and they've yielded 50 points or fewer 12 times. Erik Murphy nets 12.6 ppg on nearly 53 percent from the field while adding 5.5 rpg, and he was named to the All-SEC First Team. Right on Murphy's heels for the scoring lead are Kenny Boynton and Mike Rosario, who both pour in 12.3 ppg, and the three top scorers for UF have combined for 186 3-pointers. Patric Young (10.3 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 1.7) and Scottie Wilbekin (9.0 rpg, 5.0 apg, 1.5 spg) round out the starting five, and both were named to the SEC's All-Defensive Team.

Northwestern State can certainly light up the scoreboard, but it hasn't faced a defensive team nearly as stingy as Florida, so the Demons are in for a rude awakening if they think their usually-potent style will be successful against such a gritty squad. Expect the Gators to have a relatively easy time of it in this one as they advance to the third round.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Florida 77, Northwestern State 63

03/22 10:32:15 ET

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Scoreboard
Local
Final
CHR 2
DUR 9
 
7:00pm Tonight
CHA
CHI
 
7:05pm Tonight
DUR
NOR
 
7:05pm Tuesday
PHI 0
ATL 0
7:05pm Tuesday
NYY 0
CHC 0
7:05pm Tuesday
BAL 0
TAM 0
7:08pm Tuesday
DET 0
CLE 0
Final
CIN 7
PIT 5
Final
MIA 11
WAS 2
Final
TEX 5
SEA 0
Final
CWS 2
BOS 1
Final
HOU 2
KAN 4
Final
MIL 1
STL 6
Final
MIN 3
TOR 9
Final
ARI 0
NYM 9
Final
ANA 9
OAK 10
Final
SDP 2
COL 3
Final
SFG 3
LOS 2
 
12:35pm Today
CIN
PIT
12:35pm Today
BAL
TAM
 
1:05pm Today
NYY
CHC
 
1:10pm Today
MIL
STL
 
3:40pm Today
ARI
NYM
 
7:05pm Tonight
PHI
ATL
 
7:05pm Tonight
NYY
CHC
 
7:08pm Tonight
DET
CLE
 
7:10pm Tonight
MIA
WAS
 
8:05pm Tonight
TEX
SEA
 
8:10pm Tonight
CWS
BOS
 
8:10pm Tonight
HOU
KAN
 
8:10pm Tonight
MIN
TOR
 
10:05pm Tonight
ANA
OAK
 
10:10pm Tonight
SDP
COL
 
10:15pm Tonight
SFG
LOS
 
Final
BRK 98
NYK 109
Final
LAC 117
DEN 105
7:00pm Tonight
CHA
CHI
 
7:00pm Tonight
ORL
IND
 
8:00pm Tonight
MIL
ATL
 
8:00pm Tonight
CLE
BRK
 
8:00pm Tonight
MEM
DAL
 
8:00pm Tonight
OKC
DET
 
8:00pm Tonight
NOP
HOU
 
8:00pm Tonight
SAN
LAL
 
8:00pm Tonight
MIA
PHI
 
8:00pm Tonight
NYK
TOR
 
8:00pm Tonight
MIN
UTA
 
8:00pm Tonight
BOS
WAS
 
10:30pm Tonight
DEN
GSW
 
10:30pm Tonight
POR
LAC
 
10:30pm Tonight
SAC
PHO
 
7:00pm Tonight
TAM
MON
7:30pm Tonight
PIT
CLB
10:00pm Tonight
ANA
DAL
Final
CHR 2
DUR 9
 
7:05pm Tonight
DUR
NOR