Albany advances to take on top-seeded Gators

Albany guard Peter Hooley, center, celebrates with guard D.J. Evans, left, and forward Gary Johnson after Albany defeated Mount St. Mary's 71-64 in a first-round game of the NCAA college basketball tournament in Dayton, Ohio. (AP Photo/Skip Peterson)

Published: Tuesday, March 18, 2014 at 9:37 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, March 18, 2014 at 9:37 p.m.

Florida will open NCAA Tournament play on Thursday in Orlando against a team with a small point guard and big heart.

Albany (N.Y.) (19-14) advanced to face the Gators in the NCAA Tournament Round of 64 on Thursday in the Amway Center (4:10 p.m, TBS) after knocking off Mount St. Mary's 71-64 on Tuesday night in a battle of 16 seeds at Dayton, Ohio.

The top-seeded Gators will need to be wary of 5-foot-9 point guard D.J. Evans, who led 16th-seeded Albany to the win with 22 points. Evans also showed a nose for the basketball despite his size by grabbing nine rebounds. Australian guard Peter Hooley added 20 points for an Albany team that got all 71 points from its starters.

It was the first NCAA Tournament win in Albany's history.

“The reward we get? Facing Florida,” 12th-year Albany coach Will Brown told TruTV shortly after the game ended.

Brown knows first-hand what it's like to face a stacked Florida team. On Nov. 10, 2005, Brown took Albany to the O'Connell Center to face Florida in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic. The Gators beat the Great Danes 83-64 in the second game of UF's first national championship season (2005-06). The two schools haven't played against each other since.

Albany returns three starters from a team that went 24-11 and reached the NCAA Tournament as a No. 15 seed in 2013, before being eliminated by second-seeded Duke. This year, the Great Danes were seeded fourth in the America East Tournament but upset Stony Brook (N.Y.) 69-60 to secure an NCAA Tournament berth.

Albany's biggest weakness plays into Florida's strength. The Great Danes average 12.6 turnovers per game. Suffice to say, Florida should cause Albany problems with its press.

No No. 1 seed has ever lost to a 16-seed in NCAA Tournament history.

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