2013 NCAA Tournament Recap: Florida Shuts Down DunkCity, Sends Florida Gulf Coast Home

USA TODAY Sports

The Gators had to go and end all of America's fun. #DunkCity is officially closed for business.

Florida apparently didn't get the memo. America loves Florida Gulf Coast; they were supposed to keep winning.

Heck, even my t-shirt for this game doesn't arrive until tomorrow. I somewhat wanted it to still be relevant come Sunday.

But that wasn't the game plan Friday night. The Gators recovered from a slow start and kept #DunkCity from being more than a passing statement on their way to a 62-50 win.

For a while the FUN was still there though. Florida Gulf Coast defied the odds and came out of the gate running and scoring. Meanwhile, the lid on the basket at the other end of the floor had all of America looking at their brackets and wondering if this dream would really continue for yet another couple of days.

It wasn't to be though. Florida eventually found its shot, helped along by two Michael Frazier 3-pointers that took the air out of the Eagles. And then the defense -- you know, the thing that Georgetown and San Diego State couldn't get going -- took over.

The Gators pushed Florida Gulf Coast into a halfcourt game, awaking the turnover machine within Brett Comer.

Those of you who didn't pay attention to the Eagles this season missed that side of Comer. And it is easy to miss when the Eagles were putting up almost 80 points per game in the opening two rounds, while averaging almost 70 possessions.

You can make up for mistakes when you play that quickly. You can't when you allow Florida to slow the game down to a crawl.

Andy Enfield summed it up perfectly coming out of halftime:

"We are just throwing the ball into their hands."

Unfortunately he was referring to the Gator hands, not the hands of Chase Fieler, Sherwood Brown and Eric McKnight. This wasn't a description of #DunkCity. This was an admission of guilt.

There were other issues too. Florida was able to dominate the glass on both ends of the floor. The lack of true size by the Eagles finally became an issue.

You see, this was the expected result against Georgetown. But the Hoyas aren't Florida; they weren't the team that multiple computer systems rated the best in the country.

That was this Gators team, and they showed the true difference between a 3-seed and a 15-seed.

Fun killers.

Just look at the difference in the way that the Florida Gulf Coast game was perceived in this one. Everyone waited for the run, and it never came, because they couldn't do it. (by the way, this is how a team finishes second in the Atlantic Sun conference. Mercer plays this slow plodding style of basketball)

Here is a stat you don't want to win: turnovers committed. The Eagles lost that 19-9. That was almost 40 percent of their possessions in the game. Add in that Florida had 13 offensive rebounds, about 32.5 percent of their misses, and you have a perfect storm of advanced stats in the Gators favor.

The Eagles didn't have a shot, even when it looked for all the world like they had a slim chance of holding on to pull this off. They never seemed sunk; they never got down by 20 points, or looked tired and deflated on the floor. They just couldn't get into that rhythm that made the country fall in love with this little team from Ft. Myers.

Brown had 14 points in the end, Fieler added 12. Those came for the most part without the pizzazz that so encapsulated last weekend. Perhaps it was that Brett Comer had nine turnovers to go along with his seven assists, five of which came on the first five buckets by the Eagles.

Something about this team, this band of basketball misfits that made everything so fun, makes this hard to take.

Sunday will be just another day at the NCAA Tournament for mid-major fans. There will be no rooting interest that evening, no team to hang hopes and dreams on. The last chance for that will be Saturday evening when Wichita State takes the floor against Ohio State.

They might be able to take some of the mojo from this Eagles team and keep this mid-major train rolling.

But it won't be the same.

And so I will wear my Florida Gulf Coast Sweet 16 shirt on Monday, and display it proudly to all who care. This was the team that made America love college basketball even more for seven straight days. You can't take that away from us.

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