With 8 and a half minutes to play, I turned my TV off, went to bed, and tried to remember all of my UCLA trash talk. After all, Michigan State was getting destroyed. 64-41 was the UCLA lead, and I knew the game was over.
Except it wasn’t.
Far from it.
UCLA suddenly exhibited one of the greatest choke jobs in the history of the NCAA tourney. From 23 points down with 8:28 to go, Michigan State scrambled all the way back to tie it, and eventually fell when UCLA made two free throws with a few seconds left.
So the Gators face a UCLA team that has far more talent, far more experience, and far more nausea in their system tomorrow.
The big question is, how does UCLA take this pyrrhic victory?
Do they feed off the close victory, pull together, and play a great game?
Or do they play with butterflies throughout every square inch of their bodies?
On a strategic note, Florida must contain Tyler Honeycutt and Malcolm Lee, the Bruins’ biggest scorers. It would be nice if the Gators can light it up from three point land again- but then, it’s easy to nail threes when you’ve got a huge lead. The difficult part is when the other team is giving you trouble. The inside game last night wasn’t bad, but it will need to be great against UCLA- at least until we show that we’re hitting threes from all over.
They have home court, remember, in Tampa. UCLA had to travel the same distance as UCSB, and may be completely drained of energy.
In my honest opinion, I believe Florida is as capable of winning it all as anybody. Obviously, the only thing I can base that off of is against a team that was .500 in Big West Conference play, but it’s still a nice sign by all means for Gator fans.