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Florida Gators coach Billy Donovan happy for friend, mentor Rick Pitino

How an 11-point lead disappears

With 8:16 left, Patric Young's dunk put Florida up 65-54. From there, the Gators made just one field goal while being outscored 18-3:

Louisville Florida

8:04: Behanan 3-pointer (65-57, UF) 7:24: Walker misses jumper

6:55: Young misses jumper

6:40: Behanan jumper (65-59, UF) 6:23: Walker 0-of-2 FTs

6:07: Behanan misses jumper 5:50: Walker misses 3-pointer

5:40: Smith 3-pointer (65-62, UF) 5:19: Beal turnover

4:59: Smith jumper (65-64, UF) 4:39: Beal misses layup

4:20: Silva misses layup 3:58: Young 1-of-2 FTs (66-64, UF)

3:30: Smith misses jumper

3:28: Smith misses jumper

3:07: Behanan layup (66-66) 2:39: Boynton layup (68-66, UF)

2:25: Florida steal 2:02: Beal layup blocked

1:46: Smith 1-of-2 FTs (68-67, UF) 1:25: Boynton misses jumper

1:06: Behanan jumper (69-68, UL) :48: Beal layup blocked

:40: Walker misses jumper

:19 Florida steal :18: Beal turnover

:17: Smith 2-of-2 FTs (71-68, UL) :11: Beal misses 3-pointer

:08: Boynton misses 3-pointer

:03: Blackshear 1-of-2 FTs (72-68, UL) :02: Walker misses 3-pointer

PHOENIX — Call Saturday's loss to Louisville bittersweet for Florida coach Billy Donovan.

Though he won't be going to the Final Four, his mentor and close friend Rick Pitino will. And Donovan said there was some consolation in that.

"I personally, for me, am very happy for Coach Pitino," said Donovan, who played for Pitino at Providence in the mid '80s and led the school to the Final Four. "Certainly, emotionally going into the game it's always a difficult situation like that, with our relationship, but I don't think any coach enjoys losing in this type of situation. But if I had to lose, it would be to him, to have him toward the end of his career to enjoy this experience."

Donovan is 0-7 vs. Pitino coaching for Marshall and UF.

"(Saturday) it was very difficult because of the way the game ended, because they outplayed us," Pitino said. "For 32 minutes they outplayed us. And it really hurt inside. As much as I felt like celebrating, it really hurt because he did such a masterful job of coaching. Florida was brilliant. It hurts to see Billy lose."

TOTAL DEVASTATION: Devastated. That was the word that permeated the Florida locker room as the Gators tried to come to terms with the fact they had fallen one game short of the Final Four for the second straight season. After losing four of their last five games before the NCAA Tournament, the Gators rallied to win three of four. It was little consolation.

"It's really cruel because we were so close," sophomore C Patric Young said. "We really thought we were going to come out and win this game. We thought we were going to be preparing for Kentucky or Baylor coming up next weekend and our season wasn't going to be over, yet. We had a really good run, but we really thought we were going to be cutting down the nets (Saturday), as we (thought) last year."

The toughest part? The 11-point lead that evaporated late — just like last year.

"Same feeling (as last year's loss to Butler)," junior G Kenny Boynton said. "We were up, blew the lead, same feeling. You wish you could get it back, but you know it's over. You can't change it."

BEAL'S FUTURE: Freshman G Bradley Beal, who reportedly is considered a lottery pick by NBA scouts, said after the game he was too hurt to even consider next season. He said on Friday that he will sit down with Donovan and his parents after the season and decide what's best for his future.

Florida Gators coach Billy Donovan happy for friend, mentor Rick Pitino 03/24/12 [Last modified: Sunday, March 25, 2012 4:18am]
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