GAINESVILLE — Before the season began, Florida forward Chandler Parsons had never hit a winning shot in his life. After Saturday night's game against South Carolina, he has two.
Trailing by one with five seconds remaining, senior forward Dan Werner threw a quick inbounds pass to Erving Walker. The sophomore guard drove down the court and, with time running out, passed to an open Parsons, who hit a 3-pointer as time expired to give Florida a 58-56 win over the Gamecocks at the O'Connell Center. The game had four lead changes in 20 seconds.
It was Parsons' only 3-pointer of the night (he was 1-for-4) and his second buzzer-beater this season. He also hit a 75-foot winner against North Carolina State on Jan. 3. It was the Gators' first-buzzer beater at the O'Dome since Anthony Roberson's 30-footer against Georgia in 2003.
"Honestly, I was just in the right place at the right time," Parsons said. "Dan made a great play by getting the ball out to us, and Erv really stepped it up and drew the defense and found me open. I struggled shooting all game long, but it felt good, and it definitely felt good to do it at home and get a win like this."
Walker said he heard Parsons (10 points, 10 rebounds) calling for the ball as he went upcourt.
"I was looking for the best shot, whoever could get it," said Walker, who had 13 points, five rebounds and seven assists.
Florida (14-5, 3-2 SEC) trailed 54-52 when freshman guard Kenny Boynton was fouled outside the 3-point line with 11 seconds left. He hit all three free throws to give Florida a 55-54 lead.
The dramatic victory overshadowed the performance of South Carolina senior guard Devan Downey, who had 36 points, including the Gamecocks' final nine. It was the most points by an opposing player at the O'Dome since LSU's Chris Jackson scored 53 in 1988. Downey's spin move and driving layup while double-teamed with five seconds left put the Gamecocks up 56-55.
Florida coach Billy Donovan said he was proud of his team's effort but said he wanted the Gators to celebrate in perspective.
"In those situations as a coach, what you always want is a chance and an opportunity to shoot the ball," Donovan said. "We could not have asked for a better look than the one we got. … We were down by one with five seconds to go, and we could have a totally different feeling right now. You have to be able to really understand, where you made mistakes, where you did a good job and keep things in perspective."