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NCAA Tournament 2012: Louisville Vs. Florida: Gators Let It Slip Away, Lose 72-68

The Florida Gators were denied a fifth trip to the Final Four in their program's history after they blew an 11-point second-half lead and lost to the Louisville Cardinals 72-68 in the West Regional Final Saturday afternoon in Phoenix.

The Gators appeared to be home and dry when Patric Young's slam dunk put them up 65-54 with 8:17 to play. But Florida managed only a single field goal the rest of the way, when Kenny Boynton's driving layup put Florida up 68-66 with 2:42 to play.

Chane Behanan put Louisville ahead to stay with 1:08 to go when his midrange jumper gave the Cardinals a 69-68 lead. Florida missed two opportunities to regain the lead on the ensuing possession, but appeared to have forced a turnover when Bradley Beal intercepted a Louisville pass with 17 seconds left to go. However, Beal inadvertently took too many steps, and the officials gave the ball back to Louisville.

Russ Smith made two foul shots to make the score 71-68, and Florida's last two three-point attempts to tie missed. Wayne Blackshear made one of two foul shots with 2.8 seconds left to seal the win.

Smith led all scorers with 19 points off the bench for the Cardinals, while Behanan added 17. All five Florida starters scored in double figures, with Erik Murphy and Beal scoring 14 points apiece. Erving Walker and Boynton added 12 points apiece and Young scored 11.

For up-to-the-minute scores on all NCAA Tournament games, please check out SI.com's complete scoreboard.

For more on the 2012 NCAA Tournament bracket, stay with SB Nation's NCAA Tournament hub for a complete printable NCAA Tournament bracket and tons of analysis on the Elite 8, and who will make it all the way to New Orleans and the Final Four.

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Photographs by cstreet.us, thelastminute, turtlemom nancy , fesek, kthypryn, justinwright, sue_elias, pointnshoot, and scrapstothefuture used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.