Florida's D to be tested by UCLA's potent offense - WSVN-TV - 7NEWS Miami Ft. Lauderdale News, Weather, Deco

Florida's D to be tested by UCLA's potent offense

Posted: Updated:

By TERESA M. WALKER
AP Sports Writer

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) -- Scottie Wilbekin has defended the 6-foot-6 Harrison twins of Kentucky and seen his share of tall guards during his four seasons at Florida.

Yet nothing really has prepared the Southeastern Conference player of the year for UCLA's Kyle Anderson.

The sophomore plays point guard for UCLA despite being 6-9, tall enough to play forward or center on any other team. Anderson can stretch his arms out 7-3, allowing him to simply pass over or around any defender in his path helping the Bruins average 81.5 points a game.

Wilbekin will be giving up 7 inches Thursday night to Anderson in the South Regional semifinal at the FedExForum.

"Yes, it's going to be tough," Wilbekin said. "He's definitely a unique cover."

The Gators have been one of the nation's stingiest defenses all season and now must slow down Anderson and the Bruins in the South Regional semifinal Thursday night to extend the longest winning streak in school history to a 29th game. Another win puts the NCAA tournament's overall top seed into a fourth straight regional final.

"Every game you get a chance to win, it becomes more difficult," Florida coach Billy Donovan said. "It becomes more challenging, it becomes harder."

The Gators (34-2) have won with one of the nation's stingiest defenses all season, holding opponents to an average of 57.5 points a game that puts them third nationally. They like to press while smothering teams, and the Gators have held 26 opponents to 61 points or fewer. They advanced to their fourth straight regional semifinal by holding Pittsburgh to 45 points last weekend.

In Steve Alford's first season, the fourth-seeded Bruins (28-8) scoring more points than they have in years. Alford said they will have to keep scoring against Florida.

"If the game's in the 50s, that's probably not favoring UCLA," Alford said. "We need the thing to be a little bit more up-tempo than that."

Anderson is the do-everything guard for UCLA, averaging 14.7 points and grabbing a team-best 8.7 rebounds per game. He also leads the Pac-12 with 6.5 assists a game. But he has plenty of help, and the other Bruins are big too. Jordan Adams leads UCLA with 17.4 points a game, and he's a 6-5 guard. Norman Powell is their shortest starting guard at 6-4.

"They're a unique basketball team," Gators forward Casey Prather said. "They have guards that post up and bigs who can shoot. They do a great job in transition. They're very good on offense so we've just got to do a good job of meeting the challenge."

The Gators have scored more than 80 points only five times this season and only twice since the end of November. That makes ratcheting up the defensive intensity a must to contain Anderson.

"We just have to build walls, help each other, and try to keep him out of the lane," Wilbekin said.

UCLA can play some defense as well. The Bruins held opponents to 70.1 points a game, and they rank third nationally in steals averaging 9.3 per game. That allows them to get running back the other way for lots of easy buckets.

"They're very fast," Donovan said of the Bruins. "They're a great passing team. They're an unselfish team. Certainly missed shots, turnovers, loose ball turnovers in the middle of the floor, they're great at taking those plays and turning them into points."

The Bruins turned the ball over only three times in beating Stephen F. Austin in the third round. They are expecting the Gators to press, and Anderson said they just have to match their intensity.

"I do think we're the team to take on that press," Anderson said.

This will be the fourth game between these programs with plenty of national championship history. Florida's two titles have come under Donovan, while Alford is busy embracing all that UCLA means at the university where John Wooden dominated with his 10 championships.

But UCLA has yet to beat Florida and Donovan who beat the Bruins in the 2006 national championship and again at the 2007 Final Four and in 2011.

"We've got a lot of challenges with Florida, so everybody might as well throw in the history too," Alford said. "I don't know if the history's going to play much into the game, but it's just one more challenge that we try to get over."

------

AP Sports Writer David Brandt contributed to this report.

------

Follow Teresa M. Walker at www.twitter.com/teresamwalker

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • College FootballMore>>

  • TCU's Fields investigated for alleged assault

    TCU's Fields investigated for alleged assault

    Tuesday, July 22 2014 8:20 PM EDT2014-07-23 00:20:43 GMT
    TCU suspended defensive end Devonte Fields on Tuesday pending the results of a police investigation into whether he punched a former girlfriend in the head and threatened her with a gun while shouting, "I should...
    TCU suspended defensive end Devonte Fields on Tuesday pending the results of a police investigation into whether he punched a former girlfriend in the head and threatened her with a gun while shouting, "I should blast you!"
  • Paterno son, other former assistant sue Penn State

    Paterno son, other former assistant sue Penn State

    Tuesday, July 22 2014 5:21 PM EDT2014-07-22 21:21:48 GMT
    A son of late Penn State football coach Joe Paterno has sued the university over his dismissal from its coaching staff two years ago, saying he has been unfairly linked to the Jerry Sandusky child molestation scandal.
    A son of late Penn State football coach Joe Paterno has sued the university over his dismissal from its coaching staff two years ago, saying he has been unfairly linked to the Jerry Sandusky child molestation scandal.
  • Big 12 commish's dire warning about pending change

    Big 12 commish's dire warning about pending change

    Monday, July 21 2014 11:53 PM EDT2014-07-22 03:53:20 GMT
    Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby had a dire warning Monday for anyone who likes intercollegiate athletics the way they are now.
    Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby had a dire warning Monday for anyone who likes intercollegiate athletics the way they are now.
  • College BasketballMore>>

  • Leslie headlines 2015 women's Hall of Fame class

    Leslie headlines 2015 women's Hall of Fame class

    Sunday, July 20 2014 5:50 PM EDT2014-07-20 21:50:00 GMT
    By DOUG FEINBERG AP Basketball Writer Four-time Olympic gold medalist Lisa Leslie headlines the 2015 women's basketball Hall of Fame induction class announced Saturday.
    By DOUG FEINBERG AP Basketball Writer Four-time Olympic gold medalist Lisa Leslie headlines the 2015 women's basketball Hall of Fame induction class announced Saturday.
  • No charges against 2 Providence College players

    No charges against 2 Providence College players

    Thursday, July 17 2014 5:34 PM EDT2014-07-17 21:34:23 GMT
    An investigation into an alleged sexual assault by two Providence College basketball players has concluded with no charges, the Rhode Island attorney general's office said Wednesday.
    An investigation into an alleged sexual assault by two Providence College basketball players has concluded with no charges, the Rhode Island attorney general's office said Wednesday.
  • Griner blossoming in WNBA after rough 1st year

    Griner blossoming in WNBA after rough 1st year

    Wednesday, July 16 2014 8:23 PM EDT2014-07-17 00:23:30 GMT
    After a tough first season in the WNBA, Brittney Griner is blossoming into the player everyone thought she would be, all the while embracing her status as a role model for gays.
    After a tough first season in the WNBA, Brittney Griner is blossoming into the player everyone thought she would be, all the while embracing her status as a role model for gay youth.
Powered by WorldNow

WSVN-TV
Sunbeam Television Corp
1401 79th Street Causeway
Miami, FL 33141

Switchboard: (305) 751-6692
Newsroom: (305) 795-2777

Can't find something?
Connect with us here:
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and WSVN. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.