March 16, 2012
Virginia's trip to the NCAA Tournament ended on day one in Omaha. The 10-seed Cavaliers fell 71-45 to No. 7 Florida in Friday's second round action. The Gators outscored UVa 41-23 in the second half to win handily and advance to the third round. They'll meet the winner of No. 2 Missouri/No. 15 Norfolk State on Sunday.
The loss is the worst in NCAA Tournament history for the Cavaliers and the 26-point differential, the team's worst this season.
"I think in time the sting will go away from them and they'll be thankful for this opportunity," said UVa head coach Tony Bennett, "But you saw a team that really took it to us and we did not have an answer."
"They were a little bit more athletic," added Akil Mitchell. "A little bit quicker, a little bit deeper than we were but it's all just excuses. I think in the long run we just struggled to get stops, it's what we've been doing all year and we just couldn't get it done."
Fifth-year senior Mike Scott led Virginia with 15 points and six rebounds in his final game as a Cavalier. They held Florida's three-point attack to a minimum, just 4-of-23 for the game, but the Gators had three players in double-digits. UVa was out rebounded 39-23.
Virginia started the game on a 10-2 run and led most of the first half, but seven turnovers late in the period allowed Florida to take a 30-22 at halftime. UVa's final lead of the game was with 6:43 remaining in the first half, up 18-17. They cut the deficit to six points early in the second half but never got any closer.
"Granted we reached our goal of getting to the NCAA Tournament," added sophomore Joe Harris. "But this loss, it really stings. I feel particularly bad for our senior guys."
"I just thought we came out with a lot of energy," said Scott. "We executed on defense, got what we wanted on offense but they made their run and they just came out the second half very strong."
Fellow fifth-year player Sammy Zeglinski added a pair of three-pointers and eight points in his career finale.
"I'm just fortunate I had a chance to play for Coach Bennett and serve this team," Zeglinski said. "It was tough to end this way but I liked what I was a part of."
Virginia finishes the season 22-10, 9-7 in conference play.