Bob Smizik: Florida Gators badly outclass Pitt


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It doesn’t take a basketball genius to analyze the Pitt-Florida game today.

Florida had better shooters, better defenders, better rebounders, better athletes.

The result: Florida 61, Pitt 45.

The is a reason Florida was No. 1 in the nation and Pitt was unranked. There is a reason Florida was a No. 1 seed and Pitt a No. 9. Those reasons were on display in this round of 32 games in the NCAA tournament at Orlando.

Pitt needed its ‘A’ game against the Gators but came up with its ‘D’ game. Give Florida some credit for that.

No doubt, there will be the typical avalanche of criticism of Pitt coach Jamie Dixon. This one doesn't come close to falling on Dixon. This falls strictly to the Florida players' superiority.

Pitt guards James Robinson and Cameron Wright were rendered null and void by the superior Florida defenders when the game was in doubt. The Gators never allowed Talib Zanna and Lamar Patterson to get into their games or be a large factor in its outcome.

Pitt’s dismantling of Colorado in the opening game of the tournament Thursday buoyed hopes for an upset or, at least, a close game. Pitt got neither.

Pitt had no answer for Florida point guard Scottie Wilbekin, who finished with 21 points on 9-of-15 shooting, including 3-of-7 from 3-point range. Late in the game, with Florida up by 10, Wilbekin was guarded by Josh Newkirk, Pitt’s quickest defender, by far. Wilbekin beat him to the hoop for an easy basket.

Zanna led Pitt with 10 points, Patterson had eight. Patterson was 1-for-7 from 3-point range. Pitt needed more from those two but it would not have made a difference in this game. In Patric Young, Florida had a player reminiscent of DeJuan Blair, both in looks and floor presence, and he played a large role in controlling the inside.

Wilbekin’s 3-pointer at the first-half buzzer gave the Gators a five-point lead and a ton of momentum to take into the final 20 minutes. Pitt scored first in the second half and not again for more than six minutes. By that point, the Gators had taken a 10-point lead and there would be no catching them.

Pitt finishes 26-10 and had a good but not outstanding first season in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Losing Patterson and Zanna might make the second year more difficult.


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