The Florida Gators’ bid for their third trip to the Final Four in six years came up just short in the Southeast Regional Final. The Butler Bulldogs led for most of overtime and hung on for a 74-71 win as the Gators took two ill-advised shots on their last two possessions of the game.
After Shelvin Mack (who scored 27 points) missed a three-pointer, the Gators took a timeout with 30 seconds left, trailing by a point. Out of the timeout, Kenny Boynton took a long three-pointer from the left wing and missed. Butler was awarded the ball on the possession arrow after a wild scramble ended with a jump ball. Then after a foul, Mack hit both free throws to extend the Bulldogs’ lead to three.
Florida caught a break when the scorekeeper accidentally started the clock before it was touched, giving them a de facto timeout to draw up a play to tie. But Erving Walker, ice cold all day, launched a questionable 25-foot three and missed. Ronald Nored grabbed the rebound for Butler and threw it down court, running off enough of the clock that Kenny Boynton only had time to heave a shot at the basket from 60 feet away. It was off line, and Butler earned its second straight trip to the Final Four.
Florida’s season ends with a record of 29-8, but they have re-established themselves as a championship contender after a rebuilding period following their back-to-back national titles in 2006 and 2007.
For more on the Gators and their impressive Tournament run, follow Alligator Army, SB Nation’s Florida blog.
Also, it should be stated for the record that Reggie Miller spent the entire overtime trying to sabotage a classic Gus Johnson call on the TV broadcast.