Not taking care of the ball will kill you in any sport and that was certainly the problem for No. 15 Florida Gulf Coast against No. 3 Florida in the Sweet 16 on Friday night.
The SEC powerhouse Gators ousted the Eagles from their Cinderella run through the NCAA tournament, 62-50, as FGCU was careless with the basketball, turning it over 20 times on the night. Sophomore guard Brett Comer had an off night for the Eagles, as he turned it over nine times and scored just four points in 31 minutes.
The Eagles got off to a fast start, even leading 19-9 at the 7:17 mark in the first half, but turnovers and reckless mistakes resulted in a devastating run for the Gators that started when Michael Frazier II knocked down two threes from the corner off the bench (h/t ESPN Stats & Info).
If you look at the statistics from Friday night's game, turnovers truly were the key factor in the Eagles' demise.
FGCU shot better than 45 percent from the floor and 36 percent from three—both percentages at least seven percent better than the Gators—yet it still lost by 12 points.
Aside from Mike Rosario, who finished with 15 points on 6-of-14 shooting (2-of-5 from three-point range), Florida wasn't shooting well. No other starter for the Gators made a single three and Erik Murphy and Kenny Boynton were a combined 4-for-13 on the night with 11 points.
Another big issue for the Eagles was getting to the free-throw line. FGCU made just 11 trips to the line and converted only six of them while the Gators were 14-of-23 from the charity stripe. Eagles' leader Sherwood Brown wasn't his usual aggressive self and that really hurt Florida Gulf Coast against the Gators.
Lastly, the Gators were too strong on the offensive boards for FGCU to have a chance.
Erik Murphy, Patric Young and Casey Prather all sported three offensive rebounds as Florida posted the edge on the offensive glass, 13-5. Second chance points were a dagger for the Eagles, which FGCU junior guard Christophe Varidel acknowledged (via Carl Bleich of News-Press), saying,
“They had way too many extra possessions for us to win this game. We got beat (because of) offensive rebounds.”
But it wasn't just offensive rebounds that ultimately halted the Eagles' surprising run—it was careless mistakes with the basketball, a lack of toughness going to the basket and not boxing out in the paint that sent No. 15 Florida Gulf Coast packing from the 2013 NCAA Tournament.
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