It looked like a major blowout in the end, and it was on the scoreboard, but Jackson State has nothing to be ashamed of in this loss.
The Tigers came out and gave the overall #1 seed in the tournament all they had, resulting in several first half leads and a thought that maybe they had a slim shot at taking this game going into the halftime locker room. They had the crowd in their favor for a majority of the first frame, and used an up-tempo pace and feisty defensive performance to put Florida on the ropes temporarily.
Unfortunately for them the real Gators showed up in the second half, putting together exceptional three-point shooting, great ball movement and an intense presence on the glass and on the post to pull away impressively from the #16 seed Tigers. Overall the Gators scored 71 points in the second half to salvage a game that looked to be an awful performance in the first.
Florida, who was a miserable 1-13 from beyond the arc in the first half, came out of the locker room hot and finished the game at 10-28 from three-point land. As a team the Gators shot 59% from the field thanks to the way they shot the ball in the second half.
The margin of rebounds was laughable in this one: The Gators outrebounded the Tigers 60-20. Joakim Noah and Al Horford combined for 28 of them, as four other Gators pulled in at least five on the game.
This was also a great game for the bench players, as Chris Richard and Marreese Speights combined for 33 points and 12 rebounds. Other bench players got a chance to play tonight, including guys like Brandon Powell, Jonathan Mitchell and Dan Werner. Every Gator scored tonight that played with exception of Walter Hodge.
I'm going to try and get more up on this game tomorrow. For now, I'm just very glad to see this team come out so well in the second half, but I'm hoping that we don't see the same team we saw in the first half tonight for the rest of the tournament.
They'll take on Purdue on Sunday, as the Boilermakers beat Arizona tonight. This won't be an easy matchup for Florida as Purdue has a lot of momentum and plays great defense.
Stay tuned for more Gators NCAA tournament coverage.