March 26, 2011

Florida's run comes to an end

NEW ORLEANS - One of the best big-shot teams in the nation could not finish, so Florida is going home while the burgeoning Butler miracle lives on for another week.

The second-seeded Gators frittered away double-digit leads in both halves of the Southeast Regional final, a frequent pattern this year. This time, though, no one saved them at the end of a heartbreaking overtime loss Saturday at the New Orleans Arena.

That was unusual. Florida had won four consecutive overtime games and had not lost a game decided by five or fewer points since Jan. 15 against South Carolina.

The Gators picked the worst time to come up empty when it mattered most.

Erving Walker's 3-pointer at the end of regulation clanged off the rim. Kenny Boynton's go-ahead trey attempt from the wing with 13.9 seconds left in overtime was off line. Walker's off-balance, 25-foot tying attempt from straightaway in the final seconds did not fall.

Ball game.

"Right now I have a terrible feeling," Florida senior forward Chandler Parsons said," "I almost feel sick to my stomach."

He was not alone. Fifteen minutes after the loss, Walker sat inside his locker stall with his left arm hanging on a bar above his head, staring into space.

"We accomplished a lot of things - we won the SEC regular season title, we made into the SEC Championship Game, we made it to the Elite Eight," Walker said. "Those are all great accomplishments, but the ultimate goal is the national championship and the Final Four."

Boynton, sitting a few feet away from Walker, lamented the lost opportunity.

"We could have closed out the game, and we didn't," he said. "It's a tough feeling. We've been in a lot of overtimes, and the majority of times we won. We were a confident group going into overtime. We just lost."

The eighth-seeded Bulldogs, as they have done so many times in their improbable back-to-back Final Four runs, hit the biggest shot of the game. Immediately after Boynton and Walker sank 3s to give Florida a 70-69 lead in overtime, Shelvin Mack buried a long trey from the top to put the Bulldogs ahead for good with 1:21 left.

Mack, who scored 30 in Butler's second-round upset of top-seeded Pittsburgh, had a game-high 27 on 8-of-20 shooting.

"The kid's incredible," Butler senior forward Matt Howard said. "He really carries us at times."

The Gators could point to several factors in the defeat. Parsons, the SEC Player of the year, was short on almost every one of his shots and did not score in the last 35 minutes.

Walker, UF's leading scorer for the year, went 1 for 10, extending his streak of no baskets to 68 minutes before finally draining a 3-pointer in overtime.

Butler's reserves outscored Florida's bench 23-2.

Butler grabbed 16 offensive rebounds, leading to 18 second-chance points against the taller, more athletic Gators.

Still, Florida appeared fine when Tyus hit a leaner to make the score 51-40 with 9:26 left. Center Vernon Macklin was dominating Butler inside on his way to a career-high 25 points.

Then it all fell apart thanks to a combination of Butler pluck and luck. Howard scored inside off an inbounds pass, drawing Macklin's fourth foul. He missed the free throw, but the ball went out of bounds off UF's Alex Tyus. Shelvin Mack missed the front end of a one-and-one seconds later, but center Andrew Smith tipped it in for a four-point play.

Chrishawn Hopkins, a freshman reserve who did not play in the Bulldogs' regional semifinal win over Wisconsin, sank a 3-pointer right after coming off the bench for the first time. Shawn Vanzant banged in a 3 that hit the rim and the backboard before rolling through the net.

In overtime, Ronald Nored converted a foul shot that bounced high off the back of the rim and went straight through the center of the net.

What UF coach Billy Donovan will remember most, though, is Butler's hustle plays. Tyus blocked two 3-point attempts that turned into baskets when Butler grabbed the deflections.

"There were about three possession in a row that there were some loose ball opportunities for us to clean up and get down in transition that we did not come up with," Donovan said. "Up 11, it went to four pretty quickly and they got right back in the game."

Boynton finished with 17 points despite taking only nine shots. Tyus added 14 and a game-high 10 rebounds but was frustrated he did not get the ball more.

Howard had 14 points for Butler, with freshman Khyle Morris of Davie scoring 10 off the bench.

Florida tried to win with its guards at the end. Because Macklin shoots below 50 percent from the foul line, Donovan kept him off the court in favor of freshman Patric Young for several key possessions.

"I knew they were just not going to allow him to do what he did in the first half," Donovan said. "If he was going to get an angle, they were going to foul him."

The move surprised Smith, who could not stop Macklin in the first half.

"I was wondering what they were doing because it seemed like he wasn't in the game a lot in the second half and overtime, too," Smith said. "But hey, I'm not complaining."

None of that would have mattered if Walker had been on target in the final second of regulation. After Howard missed a free throw with 30.7 seconds left, Walker held for the last shot, made his move and came up empty.

"It was a great look," Walker said. "Patric (Young) set a great screen and got me open. I felt like it was going in, but it rimmed out."

"They were staying with me on the ball screens. The shots I did get up I thought were good looks. They just didn't go down for me."

Just as in the BYU game two days earlier, Florida led by 10 early, going ahead 25-15 on a Macklin hook shot. The Bulldogs had no answer for Macklin in the first half, as he went 7 for 9 from the floor. Getting to his favored position on the left block, he overpowered anyone who tried to guard him.

Also paralleling the BYU game, the Gators lost almost all of that advantage by halftime. Butler sub Zach Hahn hit a 3-pointer to start a 7-0 that closed the gap to 25-22, and the Bulldogs cut the margin to 33-32 by the half.

The pattern repeated after the break, sending the Bulldogs to Houston to try to win the national championship they missed by two points last year.

"Their awareness and their will and maybe their refusal to be denied was something that really stood out," Donovan said. "Our guys were terrific in that but maybe not as good as they were."




Official Basketball Box Score
Butler vs Florida
03/26/11 3:30 p.m. at New Orleans, La. (New Orleans Arena)


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VISITORS: Butler 27-9
TOT-FG 3-PT REBOUNDS
## Player Name FG-FGA FG-FGA FT-FTA OF DE TOT PF TP A TO BLK S MIN
54 HOWARD, Matt........ f 5-12 1-6 3-6 0 5 5 3 14 2 1 0 0 40-
44 SMITH, Andrew....... c 1-2 0-0 1-2 3 5 8 5 3 0 2 1 0 25
01 MACK, Shelvin....... g 8-20 4-13 7-11 0 4 4 2 27 4 2 0 1 42
02 VANZANT, Shawn...... g 3-9 1-3 0-0 1 6 7 1 7 0 1 0 1 38
33 STIGALL, Chase...... g 0-3 0-3 0-0 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 0 0 11
03 HAHN, Zach.......... 2-5 2-5 0-0 0 0 0 1 6 0 0 0 0 15
05 NORED, Ronald....... 0-2 0-2 4-4 1 3 4 3 4 0 3 0 0 24
20 HOPKINS, Chrishawn.. 1-1 1-1 0-0 0 0 0 0 3 1 1 0 0 4
23 MARSHALL, Khyle..... 4-6 0-0 2-4 7 0 7 3 10 0 0 0 0 21
32 BUTCHER, Garrett.... 0-0 0-0 0-0 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 5
TEAM................ 3 2 5
Totals.............. 24-60 9-33 17-27 16 25 41 20 74 8 10 1 2 225


TOTAL FG% 1st Half: 11-27 40.7% 2nd Half: 10-26 38.5% OT: 3-7 42.9% Game: 40.0% DEADB
3-Pt. FG% 1st Half: 5-15 33.3% 2nd Half: 3-15 20.0% OT: 1-3 33.3% Game: 27.3% REBS
F Throw % 1st Half: 5-8 62.5% 2nd Half: 5-12 41.7% OT: 7-7 100 % Game: 63.0% 4



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HOME TEAM: Florida 29-8
TOT-FG 3-PT REBOUNDS
## Player Name FG-FGA FG-FGA FT-FTA OF DE TOT PF TP A TO BLK S MIN
23 Tyus, Alex.......... f 6-12 0-0 2-2 3 7 10 4 14 0 1 2 1 41
25 Parsons, Chandler... f 2-9 1-3 0-0 1 6 7 3 5 2 1 0 2 43
32 Macklin, Vernon..... c 11-14 0-0 3-5 4 1 5 4 25 0 0 1 0 24
01 Boynton, Kenny...... g 5-9 1-3 6-7 0 4 4 2 17 3 1 0 1 40-
11 Walker, Erving...... g 1-10 1-7 5-6 0 1 1 4 8 4 2 0 1 37
04 Young, Patric....... 0-2 0-0 2-2 0 2 2 3 2 0 0 0 0 19
05 Wilbekin, Scottie... 0-1 0-1 0-0 0 2 2 1 0 1 0 0 1 15
33 Murphy, Erik........ 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 2 2 3 0 0 2 0 0 6
TEAM................ 1 1
Totals.............. 25-57 3-14 18-22 8 26 34 24 71 10 7 3 6 225


TOTAL FG% 1st Half: 12-25 48.0% 2nd Half: 11-27 40.7% OT: 2-5 40.0% Game: 43.9% DEADB
3-Pt. FG% 1st Half: 1-4 25.0% 2nd Half: 0-6 0.0% OT: 2-4 50.0% Game: 21.4% REBS
F Throw % 1st Half: 8-8 100 % 2nd Half: 5-6 83.3% OT: 5-8 62.5% Game: 81.8% 3



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Officials: Jamie Luckie, Michael Stephens, Karl Hess
Technical fouls: Butler-None. Florida-None.
Attendance: 12139
Score by Periods 1st 2nd OT Total
Butler........................ 32 28 14 - 74
Florida....................... 33 27 11 - 71
2011 NCAA Southeast Regional Final

Points in the paint-BU 28,UF 36. Points off turnovers-BU 7,UF 14.
2nd chance points-BU 18,UF 12. Fast break points-BU 5,UF 6.
Bench points-BU 23,UF 2. Score tied-8 times. Lead changed-7 times.
Last FG-BU OT-01:21, UF OT-01:41.
Largest lead-BU by 4 1st-18:24, UF by 11 2nd-09:26.
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