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. Peter Budaj loves 'vibe' with Lightning


    Two years ago, nobody was willing to give Peter Budaj a shot, the veteran goalie wondering if he'd ever play in the NHL again.

    Peter Budaj signed a two-year extension with the Lightning, worth $1.025 million per year.
  2. A test the Rays haven't passed

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — I have no idea what to think about the Rays. Not a clue.

    Tampa Bay Rays players celebrate their 8-3 win over the Cincinnati Reds Wednesday, June 21, 2017 in St. Petersburg.
  3. Tampa Bay Lightning 2017-18 schedule: Stanley Cup champion Penguins, expansion Golden Knights among the coming attractions

    Lightning Strikes

    The Lightning's season schedule was released Thursday afternoon, and there are plenty of must-see matchups coming to Amalie Arena. Here are the home games with the most intriguing storylines:

    The champs

    (Oct. 12, Oct. 21)

    The two-time defending champion Penguins make two early trips to Tampa. [AP photo]
  4. Tampa Bay Lightning 2017-18 schedule

    Lightning Strikes

    The Lightning's season schedule was released Thursday afternoon, and there are plenty of must-see matchups coming to Amalie Arena. Here is the full 2017-18 schedule.

    The Lightning's Brayden Point celebrates a goal during a game against the Ottawa Senators in February in Tampa. [AP photo]
  5. What Wilson Ramos will mean to the Rays lineup, pitching

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Chris Archer was stumping for all-star votes for Corey Dickerson during a live interview Wednesday morning on the MLB Network when he lifted the right earpiece on his headset and said, "I hear a buffalo coming."

    Tampa Bay Rays catcher Wilson Ramos (40) waves to the crowd after being presented with the Silver Slugger Award before the start of the game between the New York Yankees and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Tuesday, April 4, 2017.