Minnesota coach Tubby Smith knows his next opponent all too well. Six years after their last meeting in the Southeastern Conference, when Smith was still at Kentucky, he will coach against Florida’s Billy Donovan again — this time in the Lone Star State with a trip to the NCAA tournament’s round of 16 on the line.
“I’m pretty familiar with Billy Donovan,” Smith said after his 11th-seeded Gophers pulled away for an 83-63 win over UCLA in the South Regional late Friday night. “They’re sort of like UCLA, they like to get the ball up-and-down the court.”
Well, No. 3 seed Florida got the night session in Austin started with a 79-47 victory over fast-paced Northwestern State, which came in as the NCAA’s top-scoring team but was held 34 points under its average.
After that, Smith got the win he needed to calm down his critics at home, while UCLA’s Ben Howland took a loss that will only ignite a new round of howling for his job out West.