Top-seeded Florida pulls away, beats Albany 67-55

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ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) - Florida coach Billy Donovan gathered his team in a solemn locker room and delivered the harsh truth: “This isn’t going to be enough to keep our season going.”

The players shook their heads in agreement - and vowed to respond.

The top-seeded Gators sleepwalked early and still looked vulnerable late. Luckily for Florida, Donovan’s bench came up big and bailed out the team in a tight game against what was supposed to be an overmatched opponent.

Sixth man Dorian Finney-Smith scored 16 points, most of them on dunks, and Florida used a second-half surge to beat No. 16 seed Albany 67-55 in the NCAA tournament Thursday.

“We know that there’s more inside of us, more that we need to give,” said center Patric Young, who finished with 10 points and 10 rebounds for his first double-double of the season. “Hopefully we can come in the next game, Saturday, with a better mindset, better focus.”

Kasey Hill added 10 points off the bench for Florida (33-2), which extended its school-record winning streak to 27 games and advanced to face ninth-seeded Pittsburgh in the South Region on Saturday.

But the Gators know they’ll have to play better to advance to the Sweet 16.

“It was good enough to win, but is it good enough to play against a team like Pittsburgh? Probably not,” Donovan said. “But I’m proud of our guys because they found a way to win when they didn’t play their best. And you know what? They’ve always been really good at being able to learn valuable lessons in a lot of ways. So hopefully they’ll be able to come back and correct that and do a little bit better.”

Florida’s win made No. 1 seeds 117-0 against 16 seeds since the NCAA tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985.

So many of those were over by halftime. This one, though, was far from a lopsided affair.

The first half couldn’t have gone much better for Albany, which was back on the court less than 48 hours after the program’s first NCAA tournament win. The Great Danes (19-15), who beat Mount St. Mary’s in the First Four in Dayton, Ohio, made 10 of their first 15 shots and hung with Florida.

Albany did an impressive job breaking Florida’s press. And coach Will Brown had a clear game plan on defense: Don’t let Michael Frazier II get any clean looks from 3-point range, beg Prather to take jumpers, sag in the post on center Young and mix up defenses from possession to possession. Box and one. Triangle and two. Zone. Man. Albany used it all.

It worked - nearly to perfection.

“I knew they were going to junk the game up,” Donovan said.

Frazier was scoreless in the first half, Prather turned into a jump shooter and Young was missing early on.

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