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NCAA Final Four: Live from AT&T Stadium

2013-final-four-dallas

ARLINGTON, Texas — Florida's 'Core Four' starts its Texas revenge tour in roughly one hour.

The top-seeded Gators and seventh-seeded Connecticut Huskies tipoff at 6:09 p.m. (EST) on TBS at Jerry World AT&T Stadium. 

Florida has won all four tournament games by double-digits — the only team to do so — and enter the matchup as prohibabtive favorites (BPI 80 percent, FiveThirtyEight 70 percent, Vegas -6.5), but can Shabazz Napier complete the Kemba Walker metamophsis and engineer an upset?

We'll see. 

ICYMI: A sampling of the Miami Herald's extensive pregame coverage:

* Adam Beasley's tremendous feature on Billy Donovan. 

* The heavyweight match-up between Napier and UF guard Scottie Wilbekin.

* Will Kasey Hill be the X-factor?

* Overcoming the distractions at the Final Four.

* An early preview. 

Here's a six-pack of keys to watch during the Final Four showdown. 

CONTROLLING THE PAINT

The Gators physically dominated the Huskies on Dec. 2, as UF outscored Connecticut 32-14 in the paint, had a plus-eight margin on the glass and forced both Huskies centers (Phillip Nolan, Tyler Olander) to foul out. 

Patric Young was unguardable, tallying 17 points on 6-of-10 shooting. 

Also: Florida has been a steady rebounding team (42nd defense, 41st offense) all season, while UConn struggles to control the boards with a guard-heavy lineup. Napier is UConn’s leading rebounder (5.9 rpg), as Nolan — its starting big-man — grabs just 2.9 boards per contest. 

FREE THROWS

[See: UCLA note, lather, rinse, repeat]. The Gators, porous from the charity stripe most of the season (66.3 percent), have shot 73.9 percent in four NCAA Tournament games, but UConn is better… much better. Napier has shot 93 percent from the line in the Big Dance, 87 percent on the season. UConn averages 21 free throws a game. 

BEHIND THE ARC 

The Gators shot a woeful 6-for-25 from downtown in two games last year at the cavernous AT&T Stadium, but players swear depth perception won’t be a factor tonight. In Michigan’s Elite Eight drubbing, Wilbekin and Michael Frazier II never attempted a trey.   

BENCH 

Kasey Hill didn’t play (ankle). Chris Walker wasn’t on campus yet (ineligible). Dorian Finney-Smith had one of his worst games of the season (4 fouls, 3 points). Florida’s depth is one of the team’s major strengths, as UF reserves have outscored their counterparts 62 percent of the time this season. In the first meeting, UConn had a plus-nine advantage (12-3). Look for that to flip tonight. 

TURNOVERS

Florida had its worst assist-to-turnover ratio of the season against UConn (8:16), as Finney-Smith (6), Wilbekin (3) and Casey Prather (5) struggled to take care of the ball. The 16 turnovers were one shy of Florida’s season-high, and the Gators haven’t coughed the rock up as many as 14 times in six weeks. 

OVER/UNDER 25.5

Napier sliced the Gators for 26 points in the first matchup, highlighted by his buzzer-beating fadeaway. Napier has scored 25 (or more) points 10 times this season — with UConn winning eight of those games. If the Gators hold the All-American under 25 points they should roll to the finals, otherwise things could get tricky.

Enjoy the game, everybody. 

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton

Comments

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I think Kasey Hill will be the difference in this game, helping to wear out Napier

Hahaha, oh wow.

Another lizard loser choke job.

It's all you can do these days as a basketball school, really.

UConn just scored again...along with Georgia Southern, Miami, and most of the SEC.

See ya later, Gaturd!

Looks like we uave to put out an APB on gatorfans again. Did they give up at the 2:09 mark? Kinda what I saw. Think I saw tebow in the stands crying (again).

ATTN: all candy cane fans. how did your BB team do this year? slightly worse than your football team i think.

Man i can't wait to watch the U have another mediocre season and post on this Gator blog all night since I have NO LIFE.

39-6, our best effort yet!

candy cane fans are very jealous b*tches and embarrassing themselves and the U(nranked) nation.

Miami Hurricane in a football uniform+ U Conn Husky in a basketball uniform = Gaturd Kryptonite. Maybe you can figure out a way to duck U Conn in BB like you duck the Canes in football.

21-16: The final word.

Maybe the Candy Canes can come in 4th place in the crappy ACC again next year.
39-6 (no touchdowns) the continuing word for the U(nranked).

it was a magical season and the Great Gators having nothing to be ashamed of. Go GATORS!

21-16

Even better...39-6

Ollie bragging about the 39 men that mated with the hog you call a mother during her 6 day binge to create the thing that is you is nothing to brag about. Now back to cleaning the toilets at Steak and Shake boy.

Another disappointing end to another gator sport season, its what Ufailure does. Own it and move on, No baseball team worth a damn and the football team is having a hard time not blocking each other with the noline so disappointment is what Ufailure does.

Another disappointing end to another gator sport season, its what Ufailure does. Own it and move on, No baseball team worth a damn and the football team is having a hard time not blocking each other with the noline so disappointment is what Ufailure does.

Too bad Wilbekin had his worse game of the season against UConn, it looked good for a while at the start of the game but the team couldn't score or rebound after that. Shows you how difficult it is to win one of these things.
Nothing to be ashamed of, Billy D has built a consistent winner, have been in contention every year for the past 4 years in a row. Keep knocking on the door and we will break through soon enough.
That is what makes it so idiotic for any cane "fan" to trash talk. This Gator team would have been the best ever in the history of the sorry cane program, something they can only dream about. This is what the Gators are about, to be in contention for the national championship each and every year. To be one of the best programs in the nation. To have one of the best coaches in the nation, best facilities and best fan support. All of these things are alien to the cane trash.
It's always great to be a Florida Gator!

the GATORS will be back next year in the final mix with Chris Walker, Kasey Hill and Frazier leading the way! GO GATORS! Long live the GATOR nation!

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