Albany found itself in a situation where they had to win a game just for the privilege of playing the top overall seed in the tournament. They faced off with Saint Mary’s in what is now referred to as the first round and were able to hold on for a 71-64 victory. As would be the case with smaller schools some of their players cannot match up with the bigger stronger players on other teams. Well D. J Evans who is listed at 5 foot 9 and appears to be much shorter than that was the tallest, strongest, and best player on the court Tuesday night. He made the 2 clinching free throws to go along with 22 points and 9 rebounds. The most impressive stat of the night is the fact that he collected 9 rebounds despite giving up a tremendous amount of height at all times. It was a game of runs that featured a great start by Albany with leads of 13-0 and 21-2 however soon Mount Saint Mary’s would counter with a 21-2 run of their own to tie the game. The game remained close throughout and they were paced by guard Peter Hooley who finished with 20 points. He gave them a 3 point lead with clutch free throws late in the game and mixed in a few drives to the hoop to seal the victory. It was a great win for the program who will now have just one day to prepare for its next opponent.
This is a very unlikely Florida team that has ascended to the top of the NCAA rankings. They are led by four seniors in this day of the “one and done”. Senior forward Patrick Young was considered to be the next Dwight Howard coming out of high school, however while he has a similar muscular physique he never grew taller and remained the same height throughout his Florida tenure. He thought he would leave after his sophomore or junior season and instead has remained all four years in part due to his loyalty to his fellow seniors. Fellow senior Scottie Wilbekin had a rough few years with the Gators and was on the verge of being dismissed from the program. He then moved back into his parents’ house, got his act together while becoming the team’s lockdown defender, distributor, and reliable scorer at over 13 points per game. Casey Prather has emerged as The Gators leading scorer at over 14 points per game even though he never averaged more than 6 in his previous 3 years. Will Yegutte was foreign to this country and had many chances to get frustrated and go back home to France. For different reasons they are all finishing up 4 years at Florida and are poised to win a national championship.
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