A first-team, All-Southeastern Conference performer in his senior season, South Kingstown’s Erik Murphy has had a tremendous career playing for the University of Florida men’s basketball team.
Unfortunately for Murphy, his career came to a tough ending Sunday in the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament.
Murphy was held scoreless for the first time this season as the Gators dropped a 79-59 decision to the University of Michigan at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
The senior forward from Wakefield took Florida’s first two shots from the field – a jump hook in the lane and a short, contested jumper – and after each miss Michigan answered with buckets from freshman center Mitch McGary.
From there things only got worse for Florida as the Wolverines opened the game on a 13-0 run over the first three minutes and five seconds.
By halftime Michigan built a 47-30 advantage behind the hot shooting of forward Nik Stauskas, who went 6-for-6 from the floor and buried five 3-pointers en route to 19 points at the break.
The Gators showed some signs of life out of halftime – trimming the deficit to 50-38 over the first four and a half minutes – but that would be as close as they would get the rest of the way as the Wolverines pulled away.
After struggling early Murphy never found the range Sunday as he finished 0-for-11 from the field (0-for-2 on 3-pointers) in just 22 minutes. He also finished with eight rebounds, two assists, two blocks and three turnovers.
It was the third straight year that Murphy and the Gators fell one game short of making it to the Final Four.
As for Erik’s younger brother Alex, a redshirt freshman at Duke University, things did not go much better Sunday evening.
The Blue Devils fell to top-seeded Louisville 85-63 in the Elite Eight as well at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Ind.
Duke trailed by just three at halftime but the Cardinals played inspired basketball in the second half – rallying behind fallen teammate Kevin Ware, who suffered a gruesome leg injury late in the first half – to completely dominate out of the break.
Murphy played just two minutes in Sunday’s game, turned the ball over once and did not attempt a shot. In the previous round – a 71-61 win over Michigan State – he did not enter the game.