Patric Young, one of the major catalysts behind Florida’s incredible 2013-14 campaign, continued his excellent senior season with a solid performance against a pesky Albany team to kick-start the Gators’ run in the 2014 NCAA tournament.
Now he has to step up his game to the next level, as UF is set to tackle its first real challenge of March Madness in the form of a third-round matchup with Pittsburgh.
Young will be looking to improve upon his first double-double of the season, which he dropped on the Great Danes with a 10-point, 10-rebound performance in 29 minutes of action.
The center provided the spark for Florida’s 9-0 second-half run that would put the Great Danes away for good. He started that run off with a three-point play, while also anchoring a defense that dug in and was determined to avoid becoming the first ever No. 1 seed to be upset by a No. 16 in the Big Dance.
Young admitted that his team didn’t play up to its peak capabilities against Albany, and spoke after the game about needing a better mindset, as per Mark Long of the Associated Press (via ABC News):
"We know that there's more inside of us, more that we need to give. Hopefully we can come in the next game, Saturday, with a better mindset, better focus."
Head coach Billy Donovan was not afraid to admit his team likely won't beat its upcoming opponent playing the same type of game, as per Long:
It was good enough to win, but is it good enough to play against a team like Pittsburgh? Probably not. But I'm proud of our guys because they found a way to win when they didn't play their best. And you know what? They've always been really good at being able to learn valuable lessons in a lot of ways. So hopefully they'll be able to come back and correct that and do a little bit better.
That improvement starts with Young’s, as the Jacksonville native did one of his best jobs on the defensive end. Albany center John Puk connected on five of his seven shots before fouling out, but all of them on short jump shots that Young did not try to come out and contest.
ESPN Stats & Info noted that Albany went just 6-of-19 in the paint, a testament to the 6’9” center’s ability to protect the rim:
Young was also a big reason why UF went 19-28 on its shots inside the painted area. He connected on four of his seven attempts and completely shredded the Great Danes defenders at times. If he can get more active and aggressive, he should have no problem doing the same and scoring more points against Pitt.
However, the upcoming challenge will be great. The No. 9-seeded Panthers put on one of the most impressive displays of the second round, obliterating No. 8 seed Colorado in a lopsided, 77-48 contest.
Their backcourt was downright dangerous during the matchup, as starters Lamar Patterson, Talib Zanna and Michael Young chipped in 37 points, 12 boards and three blocks.
It’s going to be tough to keep that trio off the scoreboard, but Young has shown he has the ability to do exactly that and can lock down the paint. If he’s able to focus his efforts on defense and take smart shots on offense, the Gators will move on to the Sweet 16.
Projected Final Stat Line: 13 points (4-of-6 FG, 5-of-7 FT), 7 rebounds and 1 blocked shot.
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