March 17, 2011
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TAMPA, Fla. - UC Santa Barbara scored the first point of its game against Florida in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday night in Tampa, Fla., but from there it was downhill in a 79-51 loss to the Gators.
After James Nunnally made one out two free throws to open the game for 15th-seeded UCSB (18-14), Florida (27-7) scored 10 straight points to take control. The Gauchos cut the gap to 10-5 and were still within 18-11 with 9:27 left in the first half when the Gators went on a 17-2 run that blew the game wide open.
"They're really good," said Santa Barbara head coach Bob Williams. "I mean, they shoot it, they defend it, they're unselfish, they play together and they're extremely well-coached. And, I think they they're exceptionally good with a lead. I mean, they just put a foot on our throat and didn't let off at all."
Guard Ervin Walker led the Gators with 18 points, but it was Southeastern Conference Player of the Year Chandler Parsons who greased the wheels in the decisive first half as he had eight of his 10 points, eight of his 10 assists and four of his seven rebounds.
"He brings a lot," said UCSB's James Nunally. "He's their glue guy, passes the ball well. He had eight assists in the first half, got his teammates involved, he rebounded it and scored it. When he was left open, he took good shots. He's just an all-around good player."
Florida's lead ballooned to as many as 34 points on four occasions, the last time at 69-35 with 7:40 left in the game.
Orlando Johnson led the Gauchos with 21 points on 7-of-14 shooting from the field, including 3-of-6 from three-point range. Nunnally made 4-of-8 shots and had 12 points to go with a team-leading six rebounds. Greg Somogyi had five points, six rebounds and three blocked shots.
As a team, UCSB made just 36.2% from the field, including 27.3% in the first half. The Gators made 54.7% overall, although they made just 8-of-23 from outside the three-point arc, 34.8%.
The Gauchos,who lost forward Jaimé Serna to a wrist injury early in the first half, were dominated inside. Florida outscored UCSB 34-18 in the paint and 10-2 on fastbreak points. Kenny Boynton added 13 points and Vernon Macklin 10 for the Gators.
Santa Barbara, which won the Big West Tournament with a three-game romp last weekend, was making its second straight appearance in the NCAA Tournament. It was the first time in school history that the Gauchos advanced to back-to-back NCAA Tournaments.
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