The Pittsburgh Panthers missed nearly two-thirds of their shots in the first half, and mustered just 22 points.

And then the University of Florida really started playing defense.

The Gators locked Pittsburgh down after halftime, running away from the Panthers for a 61-45 victory in a South Region third-round game at the Amway Center Saturday.

The result sends Florida into the Sweet 16 for the fourth straight season, with the winner of UCLA-Stephen F. Austin up next. The Gators also extended their school-record winning streak to 28 games.

The defense deserves much of the credit. Put simply, Pittsburgh couldn't make a shot after halftime. The Panthers scored just five points in the first 10:30 of the second half. By then, they had fallen too far behind to make a game of it late.

Florida guard Scottie Wilbekin poured a game-high 21 points on 9 of 15 shooting. He made six of seven baskets to end the game.

Florida beat up Pitt on the boards, out-rebounding the Panthers 38-31. The Gators also forced the Panthers, usually careful with basketball, into 11 turnovers.

An ugly, yet competitive first half featured three ties and nine lead changes, with neither side leading by more than 5. The Gators missed 16 of their first 27 shots; the Panthers missed 15 of their first 25.

Pitt looked poised to go into the break down just 2 when UF capitalized on a befuddling mental breakdown.