TAMPA, Florida (Ticker) -- After earning its highest seed in school history, No. 2 Florida matches up with 15th-seeded Sam Houston State in a NCAA Tournament South Region first-round contest at the St. Pete Times Forum on Friday.
The Gators (24-7) set a school record for regular-season victories, besting by one their total by the 1994 and 2000 squads, which both reached the Final Four.
Florida enters the NCAA Tournament on a season-high three-game losing streak. The Gators ended their regular season with a one-point loss at Georgia, a two-point defeat at home to Kentucky and a four-point setback to Louisiana State in the quarterfinals of the Southeastern Conference tournament.
The Gators, who are facing the Bearkats for the first time, are 15-9 all time in the NCAA Tournament, including 8-4 under coach Billy Donovan. Florida is playing in its school-record fifth straight NCAA Tournament.
Florida has four players average in double figures, led by senior forward Matt Bonner, who averages 15.7 points per game.
Sam Houston State (23-6) went 17-3 in the Southland Conference, beating Stephen F. Austin in the conference title game, 69-66 in overtime, to earn the league's automatic NCAA Tournament berth and the school's first postseason tournament trophy.
It is the first NCAA Tournament appearance for the Bearkats, who moved up to Division I in 1987. The Bearkats also won their most games in school history.
The last Southland Conference team to win a first-round NCAA Tournament game was Louisiana Tech, which defeated Pitt in 1985.
Senior forward Donald Cole leads the team in scoring at 17.6 points per game.
The winner takes on Michigan State or Colorado on Sunday.