PHOENIX (AP) — Almost every time he touches the ball, Bradley Beal does something special. His latest bit of basketball wizardry pushed Florida a win away from the Final Four and set up Billy Donovan with a perfectly scripted matchup against his old coach and boss, Rick Pitino.
Beal, the freshman with NBA written all over him, scored 21 points on 8-for-10 shooting Thursday night to help the Gators to a 68-58 victory over Marquette.
Next up for No. 7 Florida (26-10) — a West Regional final Saturday against Louisville and Pitino, who taught ol’ Billy The Kid a lot of what he knows.
Lesson No. 1 on any coach’s list, of course, would be to get good players and Beal was the best on the court on this night. He also had six rebounds, four assists and two blocked shots, including one on Marquette’s Jae Crowder when the third-seeded Golden Eagles (27-8) were desperately trying to claw back in after trailing by 14.
Crowder, a senior and the Big East player of the year, never found his touch. He finished with 15 points on 5-for-15 shooting while another Marquette senior, Darius Johnson-Odom also went 5 for 15 in a struggle to reach 14 points. Buzz Williams’ team shot 31 percent and was held 18 points under its season average.
Erving Walker had 11 for the Gators, including a 3-pointer that came after Patric Young scrapped for an offensive rebound with 2:05 left. It snapped a 6-0 Marquette run that had pulled the third-seeded Golden Eagles (27-8) to within six.
(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)