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)

Florida Gators stun No. 2 Michigan State Spartans 77-74

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — Florida craves more than another NIT appearance this season. It aspires to wildly mob each other on its way to the NCAA Tournament, like how it celebrated after upsetting No. 2 Michigan State.

Erving Walker made the go-ahead 3-pointer with 1:56 left as the Gators knocked off the Spartans 77-74 Friday in the semifinals of the Legends Classic.

"I'm just so happy these guys could experience a night like tonight against a terrific team," said coach Billy Donovan, who led the Gators to national titles in 2006 and 2007 before NIT appearances the past two seasons.

For a program known for producing gaudy numbers under coach Tom Izzo — five Final Four appearances since 1999 — the Spartans (4-1) had some ugly ones in their first loss.

They hacked the Gators with bad fouls down the stretch, committed 23 turnovers and missed 8 of 10 3-point attempts.

"I'm shocked we were even in the game the way we turned it over," Izzo said. "I can't really say we weren't ready to play, because we were."

Walker finished with 12 points and seven assists for the Gators (5-0), who face Rutgers in tonight's championship game. He made his 3 from beyond NBA range in front of Florida's bench for a 72-71 lead.

"We just wanted to prove to people we could be mentioned in the same breath as (Michigan State)," Walker said.

"I think we found out a lot more about us," Donovan said. "We have a chance to really improve and grow from this. The guys in the locker rooms are the ones who really did all the work."

Florida 77

No. 2 Mich. St. 74


Florida vs. Rutgers

When/where: 8; Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City

TV/radio: Sun Sports;


Records: Florida 4-1;

Rutgers 3-1

Notable: This is the title game of the Legends Classic. … The Knights beat UMass 83-75 in the other semi. Mike Rosario scored 22 points, and they made 8 of 14 3-point tries. … The Knights' loss came against Vermont.

Times staff

Florida Gators stun No. 2 Michigan State Spartans 77-74 11/27/09 [Last modified: Saturday, November 28, 2009 12:30am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rays make Hechavarria trade official


    Here is the release from the team ...


  2. Jones: Will Tampa Bay hit a Hall of Fame dry spell now?

    Lightning Strikes

    Marty St. Louis may lack the Hall of Fame stats, but two scoring titles, an MVP award and clutch goals should count for a lot. (Dirk Shadd, Times)
  3. Scotty Bowman says 'it's about time' Andreychuk got HOF call


    For Hall of Fame coach Scotty Bowman, Dave Andreychuk finally being part of a Hall of Fame class is especially gratifying.

    Scotty Bowman drafted Dave Andreychuk in the first round (16th overall) in 1982 and coached him the first five seasons of his career.
  4. Dave Andreychuk going into Hall of Fame (w/photo gallery)


    Dave Andreychuk said Monday began "business as usual."

    Dave Andreychuk battles Calgary's Andrew Ference during Game 3 of the Stanley Cup final.
  5. UPDATE: Rays finalizing deal to get SS Hechavarria for 2 minor-leaguers


    UPDATE, 4:27: In making the deal, the Rays add an elite-level defender to an infield that could use the help. But it also raises a number of questions, such as will they now move Tim Beckham to 2B? Does this mean Matt Duffy is not coming back this season? Is Daniel Robertson or Taylor Featherston going to …

    Adeiny Hechavarria is a two-time Gold Glove finalist who could help settle the Rays sometimes leaky infield defense.