Austin, TX – Mike Rosario had 25 points and hit 6-of-9 shots from behind the arc as Florida held off Minnesota, 78-64, in NCAA Tournament South Region third-round action.
Erik Murphy scored 15 points and Scottie Wilbekin had 12 and six assists for the third-seeded Gators (28-7), who advance to the Sweet 16 for the third straight season and await to play 15th seed Florida Gulf Coast Friday at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas. FGCU shocked San Diego State Sunday night, two days after upsetting Georgetown.
Andre Hollins had 25 points and made 6-of-10 from 3-point range for the 11th- seeded Golden Gophers (21-13), who trailed by 21 at halftime, but cut the deficit to eight points with less than nine minutes remaining, before the Gators pulled away.
Trevor Mbakwe supplied 11 points and six rebounds, while Austin Hollins and Rodney Williams each netted 10 points. The Gophers defeated UCLA Friday in the second round.
After trailing by 21 to start the second half, Minnesota, and Andre Hollins, caught fire during a 13-1 flurry to make it a 10-point contest just four-plus minutes into the action. Hollins had three triples during the run as Florida simply had no answers.
Florida's lead grew back to 13 points but Minnesota stuck around with six straight to make it a 53-46 contest with 12 1/2 minutes to play.
Murphy then picked up two critical fouls within a 1:45 minute span and was forced to head to the bench with four fouls and 11:09 to play. On the other end, Hollins was also called for his fourth foul and was sent to the bench. The offenses clearly missed both players.
As the action started to get chippy, two free throws from Mbakwe brought the Gophers within 60-52 with 8:46 remaining. Both teams went cold though, over the next three-plus minutes and the only points for either squad came from the free throw line. Still, it was 64-54 with 5 1/2 minutes to play.
That's when the Gators broke out of a cold slump with seven straight points, as Rosario came up big with a trey from the right corner to make it 71-54 with just over three minutes left.
"We have been in a lot of tough situations this year and in the past too," Murphy added about weathering the storm. "And obviously this year in handling it. But today when it got close, we really stepped up as team and came together and just did our jobs collectively as group and got the job done."
Williams' dunk with about three minutes left gave the Gophers their first field goal since the 9:42 mark, but by that point, the damage had been done and Florida kept its edge to double-digits to secure the victory.
"They were making shots," Minnesota coach Tubby Smith said. "We couldn't stop them at anything in the first half. So we tried zone and that didn't work. So we went man. We had foul trouble. We tried to protect the people because of foul situations."
Minnesota got back into the game as the first half came to close with a 10-2 swing -- highlighted by two Hollins treys -- to close its deficit to 14 with 3:13 to play. Florida, though, ended the stanza on a 9-2 spurt, capped off with an alley oop from Wilbekin to Casey Prather, before heading into the break up 48-27.
Rosario and Murphy outscored Minnesota after 20 minutes of play, accounting for 32 points combined on 10-of-14 shooting from the floor.
"I think some of the things with our team when we have gotten into some of those situations," Florida coach Billy Donovan said, "whether it's been at Missouri or Kentucky, where we have had kind of a lead and then for whatever reason we go dry for a long period of time, we were kind of in that same situation again today."
Rosario nailed back-to-back treys to kick start a 12-2 surge which saw the Gators take a 22-12 edge early in the contest. Florida stayed hot from behind the arc with less than 10 minutes to play, as Rosario and Murphy both hit 3- pointers to spark another run, this time a 13-0 spurt, to make it 37-15 with 5:17 to play in the first half.
Florida coach Billy Donovan improved to 30-10 in the NCAA Tournament ... The Gophers defeated the Gators 74-66 in only previous meeting, a first-round matchup in the 1993 NIT at Minneapolis ... Florida made 26-of-36 shots from the charity stripe.