Florida ignores close-game storyline, blasts Demons by 32

AUSTIN, Texas -- When it comes to the dominant storyline for Florida entering the second round of the NCAA tournament, you could pretty much point to the stat line that proclaims the Gators are 0-6 in games are decided by six points or less (conversely, Florida is a very strong 16-0 in games decided by 21 points or more).

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We didn’t figure 14th-seeded Northwestern State would test Florida’s shaky close-game syndrome, and though the Demons hung tough through the first 18 minutes of the game -- and stayed within single-digits for much of the second half -- the No. 3 Gators waltzed to a 79-47 win Friday.

So, we can forget about that close-game issue for at least another two days.

Because although Northwestern State had won 20 of its last 25 games -- and, ahem, were 7-3 in games decided by six points or less -- the Demons didn’t make life too difficult for Florida. After Demons forward Patrick Robinson’s free throw made the score 49-41 with 13:13 to play, the Gators took control, going on a 19-1 run that put the game out of reach.

With the Demons averaging 81 points a game this season -- the best mark of any NCAA team -- their 47-point performance was easily their worst output of the year. Of course, Florida, led by Erik Murphy’s 18 points, only allowed 53.7 points per contest, third-best in the country.

Unfortunately for Northwestern State, one of the most exciting moments of the game occurred midway through the second half when officials at the Frank Erwin Center showed the end of the Florida Gulf Coast-Georgetown game on the big video screen. And just like the Hoyas, the Demons walked off the floor a few minutes later without another game to play  this season.

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