Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Butler Bulldgos beat Florida 74-71 in overtime to spoil Gators' bid for Final Four


When they have been at their best this season, the Florida Gators relied heavily on the sharp outside shooting of their guards, Erving Walker and Kenny Boynton, with help from forward Chandler Parsons.

But Saturday afternoon, on the biggest stage of their season, with a trip to the Final Four on the line, the outside shots wouldn't fall. The Gators mysteriously went away from the inside game that was so effective for 31 minutes. And for only the second time in six tries this season, overtime wasn't in Florida's favor.

The Gators squandered a double-digit lead in regulation, then went 2-of-5 from the field and missed 3 of 8 free throws in overtime in a 74-71 loss to Butler in the NCAA Southeast Region final at the New Orleans Arena.

It was Walker, who had played brilliantly down the stretch last week to get the Gators to the Sweet 16, who missed Florida's final shots — both 3-pointers — at the end of regulation to win it and with 13.9 seconds remaining in overtime to tie it.

Tied at 60 in regulation, Florida took possession with 30.7 seconds remaining after a timeout then held for the final shot. With six seconds on the clock, Walker set up for a 3-point jumper that missed as time expired.

"We just wanted to get the last shot," he said. "We didn't want to give them any opportunity to score and we let the clock run down, and coach called a play and the shot. I got a good look at it, but the shot just didn't go down."

That's how it went for the Gators (29-8). Florida's guards struggled to get open looks: Walker and Boynton combined to go 0-for-6 from 3-point range and 4-of-15 from the field in regulation. Parsons was 2-of-9 from the field and had five points and seven rebounds in the game. The Gators shot 3-of-14 from 3-point range.

What did work for Florida was the inside play of center Vernon Macklin and forward Alex Tyus. Macklin had a career-high 25 points, dominating Butler inside. Tyus added 14 points and 10 rebounds. The two combined to shoot 17-for-26 from the field. The rest of the team? 8-for-31.

The Gators took a 51-40 lead with 9:25 remaining. But with Macklin in foul trouble and the Florida guards struggling, Butler went on a 17-6 run to tie the score at 57 with 3:03 remaining. The Gators went a good portion of the second half without Macklin, who picked up his fourth foul with 9:02 remaining in regulation.

And for Butler (27-9), every loose ball and rebound fell its way down the stretch. Butler outrebounded Florida 41-34 and scored 18 second-chance points, five in overtime.

"We just kind of stayed together, stayed the course, figured it out, and just played resiliently," Bulldogs coach Brad Stevens. "I'm incredibly proud of these guys. They carried their coach in a big way. … Our players did a great job, and (they are) just a special group. We're really lucky that they're Butler Bulldogs."

Shelvin Mack had 27 points for the Bulldogs, who reached the Final Four for the second year in a row, the first team from outside the six power conferences to reach consecutive Final Fours since UNLV in 1990-91.

"This is a huge deal," said Zach Hahn, whose two 3s helped Butler stay close in the first half. "I don't know that any other mid major has ever done this."

Close games had been Florida's strength this season. The Gators entered 9-3 in games decided by six points or fewer and 4-1 in overtime. It was not to be on Saturday as Butler won its first overtime game this season in four tries.

"There was a lot of talk about close games and us winning close games and how many overtime games we've played," coach Billy Donovan said. "But you know what, you also realize when you play in enough of those games, there are some that can go the other way. So maybe we'd like to trade one of those SEC overtime games for a game like today. But we can't do that."

Butler Bulldgos beat Florida 74-71 in overtime to spoil Gators' bid for Final Four 03/26/11 [Last modified: Sunday, March 27, 2011 12:20am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rays morning after: Wilson Ramos showing glimpses of what's possible in 2018


    The real payoff for the Rays signing C Wilson Ramos last off-season will come in 2018, when he can play a full season fully recovered from right knee surgery.

    Catcher Wilson Ramos connects for a two-run single in the fifth inning against the Cubs on Sept. 20, 2017.
  2. Buccaneers-Vikings Scouting Report: Watching Kyle Rudolph, Adam Thielen and Everson Griffen


    No matter how much film we study, no matter how much data we parse, we just don't know how an NFL season will unfold.

    Four of tight end Kyle Rudolph's seven catches this season have come on third down, including this 15-yard touchdown in the Vikings' opener against the Saints. [Getty Images]
  3. Ryan Callahan encouraged by his return


    Captain Steven Stamkos wasn't the only key Lightning player to make a triumphant return Friday night against Nashville.

  4. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Friday's Rays-Orioles game

    The Heater

    RHP Alex Cobb hates to hear how he "battled through" or "grinded out" a start rather than just dominated, but that's kind of what he did Friday, allowing nine hits and a walk and being charged with two wild pitches but only three runs in earning his 12th win.

  5. Lightning's Steven Stamkos looks close to top form in first game since November

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — The wait felt like forever for Lightning captain Steven Stamkos, having gone 10 months without playing in a game.

    A scramble in front of the Lightning goal has Matthew Peca, far left, and Erik Cernak, middle, helping out goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy during the third period of a 3-1 win against the Predators. Vasilevskiy, who made 29 saves, was “exceptional,” coach Jon Cooper says.