RALEIGH, North Carolina (Ticker) -- Bobby Gonzalez has little Manhattan playing awfully tall.
Luis Flores scored 26 points and keyed a second half run as the 12th-seeded Jaspers pulled off the first surprise of the NCAA Tournament, defeating Florida, 75-60, in a first-round game in the East Rutherford Region.
Despite a notable disadvantage in size, the Jaspers (25-5) held off a Florida rally early in the second half and pulled away to send the fifth-seeded Gators to another early NCAA Tournament exit.
Manhattan will face either Wake Forest in the second round on Saturday.
"America is going to look at this game as an upset, but behind closed doors we knew it wasn't an upset because we know we can play with anybody on any given night in the country," said Manhattan forward Dave Holmes, who had 12 points and 12 rebounds. "We just try to keep it behind closed doors. We belong here and that's no fluke."
Gonzalez has worked wonders in five five seasons at Manhattan, a small Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference school that put a scare into eventual champion Syracuse before losing in the first round last year.
The Jaspers took it a step further on Thursday, winning their first NCAA Tournament game since a team coached by Fran Fraschilla knocked off fourth-seeded Oklahoma in a first-round game in 1995.
"We felt coming in we had a chance," Gonzalez said. "We felt that Florida had only one senior and we thought our guys had been tested and were iron tough."
Gonzalez has already been mentioned as a possible candidate for other more high-profile openings, and Thursday's victory will only raise his stock.
Manhattan extended the misery for Florida (20-11), an inconsistent team that was ranked No. 1 in the country in mid-December. Since reaching the national title game against Michigan State in 2000, Florida is just 2-4 in the tournament and has yet to advance past the second round.
"I felt our guys had that deer-in-the-headlights look a little bit," Florida coach Billy Donovan said. "I thought our guys didn't compete. I felt like our guys were overwhelmed that it was the NCAA Tournament."
Florida moved to with 38-35 on a layup by Matt Walsh with 18:26 left before Flores took over. The 6-2 guard scored eight straight points with the help of two 3-pointers, with the second long-range shot pushing the lead to 46-35 with 16:03 left.
The Jaspers led by as many as 19 in the second half, pushing the lead to 63-44 on a pair of free throws by Mike Konovelchick with 5:30 left.
Anthony Roberson scored 22 points for the Gators, who fell to 9-6 in NCAA Tournament games under Donovan.
Walsh scored 13 points despite missing all five of his shots from 3-point range and was the only other Gator to reach double figures.
"I don't know how we could be in the NCAA Tournament and not compete at the highest level," Walsh wondered.
Peter Mulligan scored 17 points for Manhattan, which had a 36-26 rebounding edge despite the smaller lineup.
"We've been undersized all year," center Jason Benton said. "We look forward to challenges like this and get up for these type of games and today we got the win."