ORLANDO, Fla. -- Billy Donovans bench came up big, bailing out top-seeded Florida in a tight game against what was supposed to be an overmatched opponent. Dorian Finney-Smith scored 16 points, most of them on dunks, and the Gators used a second-half surge to beat No. 16 seed Albany 67-55 in the NCAA tournament Thursday. The Gators (33-2) showed some vulnerability, though, while extending their school-record winning streak to 27 games. Donovans team sleepwalked through the first half, swapping the lead back and forth with the pesky Great Danes, but Floridas bench provided a much-needed spark. Finney-Smith, the Southeastern Conferences sixth man of the year, was 6-of-10 shooting and tough to handle in the post. Freshman guard Kasey Hill, who wasnt sure he would be able to play because of turf toe, chipped in 10 points off the bench and was dynamic on the open floor. Patric Young finished with 10 points and 10 rebounds, his first double-double of the season. Casey Prather (16 points) and Scottie Wilbekin (10) also reached double figures for Florida, which will play ninth-seeded Pittsburgh in the South Region on Saturday. DJ Evans led Albany (19-15) with 21 points and seven rebounds. He set the tone for the Great Danes early, but couldnt do enough to pull off the most elusive enough in college basketball. Floridas win made No. 1 seeds 117-0 against 16 seeds since the NCAA tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985. But this one was far from a lopsided affair. The first half couldnt have gone much better for Albany, which was back on the court less than 48 hours after the programs first NCAA tournament win. The Great Danes, who beat Mount St. Marys in the First Four in Daytona, Ohio, made 10 of their first 15 shots and hung with Florida. Albany did an impressive job breaking Floridas press. And coach Will Brown had a clear game plan on defence: Dont let Michael Frazier II get any clean looks from 3-point range, beg Prather to take jumpers and sag in the post on centre Young. The Gators took the bait -- for a while. Frazier was scoreless in the first half, Prather turned into a jump shooter and Young was missing early on. But Donovan adjusted, like hes done so many other times this season, and got Florida rolling. Wilbekin started driving and dishing, creating easy baskets for Young and Finney-Smith at the rim. Finney-Smith had six consecutive points that seemed to get the SEC champs going, and Prather followed with a three-point play. Floridas final 10 baskets of the first half were in the paint. Still, Donovan was livid at halftime and ripped his players for a lack of defence. They responded with a 9-0 run early -- spearheaded by defence -- in the second half that turned out to be the difference. Young started it with a three-point play. Hill followed with a driving layup and then added two free throws after a turnover. Will Yeguete got another steal, and Finney-Smiths emphatic dunk capped the spurt. It was exactly what Florida needed. The Gators pretty much held on from there, making enough post plays and free throws to keep Albany at bay. For Florida, the NCAA tournament has been the goal all season. But as the wins mounted, they turned their attention toward winning a national title. Theyve looked capable much of the season, becoming the first team in SEC history to finish the regular season 18-0 and then won SEC tournament by pulling out tight games against fellow NCAA tournament teams Tennessee and Kentucky. But their performance Thursday left Donovan and many bracket managers shaking their heads. Vans Shoes Clearance
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.C. -- Gleason Fournier scored the shootout winner as the Grand Rapids Griffins defeated the Abbotsford Heat 4-3 Friday in American Hockey League action. KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Houston Astros got a good glimpse of what could happen if Chris Carter and George Springer are hitting well at the same time. Carter connected for two home runs, Springer set a rookie club record for homers in a month and the Astros beat the Kansas City Royals 9-3 Wednesday for their fifth straight win. The Astros have been waiting for Carter to take off after he hit 29 home runs last year. "This guy led our offence in home runs and RBIs last year. He had been hot and cold, but we all know when hes hot, he can carry a ballclub because weve seen him do it," Astros manager Bo Porter said. "We definitely would love to get him going. That would be an added boost to our team," he said. Carter, who had been benched the previous three games with a .192 batting average, homered to lead off the fifth. He hit a three-run homer in sixth off reliever Louis Coleman for his fourth career multihomer game and his first this season. "He sat for three days, worked extremely hard in the cage and watched a lot of video," Porter said. "He came in today with a good game plan and understanding the things in which hes worked on the last few days." "I always say this: Its good from a coaching standpoint you put in effort with a guy and the next time he gets in the lineup you see it pay off. Thats good for the player to see the immediate results of the work which hes putting in" he said. Springer homered off Danny Duffy (2-5) in the first for his ninth home run in May. Glenn Davis held the Astros rookie record with eight home runs in September 1985. Springer also walked twice and was hit by a pitch. "Our offence is better," Carter said. "Its been coming around really good. George has six home runs in six games. Im happy for him. I think we have something going here." The Astros, with the worst record in the AL, won three times in Kansas City for their first sweep of the season. Houstons winning streak is its longest since a siix-game string that ended last June 3.dddddddddddd The Royals have lost four in a row. "Its just a bad series, unfortunately, it happened at home," Royals designated hitter Billy Butler said. "Its a tough go right now." Carlos Corporan had three hits with a walk. He drove in a run as the Astros outscored the Royals 21-5 in the series. Jarred Cosart (4-4) gave up one earned run and four hits in five innings, but was pulled when his pitch count reached 95. "I chose a good day to go five and the offence scored nine runs," Cosart said. "I didnt have my best stuff. The offence came out scoring early. I felt pretty good out there. I had a couple of innings with high pitch counts. We have a five-game winning streak going. Weve got momentum. Were going back home to our own ballpark." Duffy allowed six runs on seven hits and five walks in four-plus innings. The first four Royals pitchers combined to walk 10, which was a season high. "He just didnt have anything going for him today," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "His fastball was down to 88-92 (mph) and we kept checking and asking if he was OK. He was fine, but he was going through a little dead arm. He was throwing hard, but it just wasnt coming out. We had to kind of ride it. We didnt have any bullpen help." Brett Hayes singled in the Kansas City fifth to snap an 0-for-27 skid to begin the season. He homered in the seventh, the Royals first home run in nine games. NOTES: Houston 2B Jose Altuve dropped Eric Hosmers popup to shallow right in the sixth inning for his first error of the season. That ended an Astros record of 88 errorless games by a second baseman. Altuve also had a single and tops the majors with 73 hits. ... Butler grounded out four times and is in a 2-for-22 funk, tumbling his average to .235 with one home run. ... Royals LF Alex Gordon batted third for the first time this season and extended his hitting streak to six games with a first-inning single. ' ' '