It wasn’t an easy night at the office for Florida 6-foot-9, 247-pound big man Patric Young on Friday night.
Most of Florida’s players welcomed the up-tempo matchup against Northwestern State. But for Young, there were some early struggles. Young was subbed out for Will Yeguete just 3:21 into the game and was noticeably breathing heavily on the bench.
“Yeah, I was a little tired, but I was working my butt off,” Young said. “Coach does a really good job of subbing us in and out and he trusts me that I’m going push myself through my fatigue and when I’m actually tired, I really am tired. I’m not faking it.”
Young paced himself well enough for a productive night, finishing with 16 points, 9 rebounds and 1 blocked shot in 29 minutes during UF’s 79-47 win.
“I think that when you get into tournament games there’s always that anxiety, there’s an excitement, there’s an emotional level where you probably feel like you’re running in quicksand a little bit,” Florida coach Billy Donovan said. “I think it probably took him a little while to get going. I thought we did a good job of establishing him up front. He was 6 of 10 from the field and I actually thought he missed some easy shots around the basket. But we got it to him in good areas of the floor.”
– Point guard Scottie Wilbekin found Casey Prather for a half-court alley-oop play that ended up on highlight reels throughout the country. “We call it the roommate connection,” Wilbekin said. The junior duo room together on the road. Unfortunately, the second time wasn’t the charm for Wilbekin, who missed Prather on a second alley-oop attempt. Prather dropped the pass, which was chest high, “I told him he could have gotten in a little bit higher,” Prather said. The alley-oop miss didn’t amuse Donovan on the bench. “Coach told me, just be sure (of the pass),” Wilbekin said.
– Florida assistant coach John Pelphrey and Florida staff member Darren Hertz scouted the UCLA-Minnesota game. Hertz came away impressed with Minnesota’s rebounding ability, even though UCLA outrebounded Minnesota 42-36. Hertz also made an interesting Florida comparison with Minnesota’s wide-shouldered, 6-foot-8, 245-pound forward Trevor Mbakwe. “He’s a poor man’s Donnell Harvey,” Hertz said. Like Harvey, Mbakwe is left-handed. And like Harvey, Hertz said Mbakwe “has an edge to him.” Mbakwe finished with 9 points and 12 rebounds in Minnesota’s 83-63 win over UCLA.
– With the win over Northwestern State, Donovan improved to 29-10 in NCAA Tournament games and 10-3 in NCAA Tournament openers.