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March 16, 2012The Florida Gators entered the NCAA Tournament leading the country in 3-pointers made and were shooting nearly 40 percent from beyond the arc as a team.
At halftime, Virginia's ferocious defense had held Florida to a 1-for-15 performance from three-point range. And the Cavs still trailed by eight.
Things didn't get better from there, as the Cavaliers were unable to stay in front of quicker, more-aggressive guards from Florida in a 71-45 loss in Omaha.
"We did a good job defending the three-pointer," Sammy Zeglinski said. "But way too many drives to the basket and we didn't do enough of a good job on ball screens."
Virginia never made a serious run in the second half, ending its season 22-10. It was a bittersweet end to an otherwise challenging season that gave fans something to cheer for for the first time in a while.
"First ten minutes were sound," Virginia head coach Tony Bennett said. "The ability to not make outside shots has been an Achilles heel for us all year."
As poorly as Florida shot the ball, the Cavaliers were worse, hitting just 38.3 pecent of their shots and going without a 3-pointer until 17:45 remained in the second half.
The Cavs talked on Thursday about doing more than just making the tournament. But cold shooting and turnovers made it a one and done return to March for UVa.
"I just thought we came out with a lot of energy, executed on defense, got what we wanted on offense," Mike Scott said. "But they made their run and they just came out in the second half very strong."
"The way this ended was hard," Bennett said. "We will learn from it, I do think, in time."
Scott's Swan Song
The loss marked the end of Scott's Virginia career. One of the more decorated players in Cavalier history went out with 15 points and six rebounds.
But as has often been the case this season, he didn't have a whole lot of help. No other Cavalier scored in double figures in this second-round game in Omaha.
"The memories definitely came to my mind, playing with coach, how we all have grown," Scott said of what he was thinking about as he came to the bench for the final time. "I just kept thinking I hedged on a lot of ball screens. I could have done better on ball screens."
"I appreciate what Sammy and Mike stood for, what they contributed to the game," Bennett said. "There is no greater thing for a coach to see the young men, the light go on for them, have them reach a goal as far as getting to the tournament."