NEW ORLEANS, La. (CBS4) – The Florida Gators came into Thursday night’s game with a simple plan: wear out BYU star Jimmer Fredette. The Gators did just that on their way to a thrilling 83-74 win in overtime over the BYU Cougars.
Fredette, who has been torching opposing teams all season, got his 32 points. But, he had to constantly work through double-teams on the outside and as the game wore on, Fredette wore out.
The Gators were paced by a career night from forward Alex Tyus. The senior poured in 19 points and grabbed 17 rebounds to help the Gators dominate the glass, especially on the offensive side.
Fredette kept the Cougars in the game all the way until the final buzzer of the second half. But he was starting to show signs of running out of juice near the end of the second half and by the time overtime rolled around, he simply didn’t have anything else left in the tank.
For the Gators, they are now on the cusp of getting back to the Final Four for the first time since 2007. The last time the Gators were in the Final Four, they won their second national championship in a row.
“It’s been so rewarding for me to see them make the journey they’ve made to this point now,” Florida coach Billy Donovan said. “It’s been very, very rewarding and fulfilling for me, and I hope in some way I’ve been able to give them as much as they’ve given me.”
Gator Kenny Boynton added 17 points and kept a hand in the face of Fredette through most of the game. Erving Walker and Chandler Parsons both scored 16 points for the Gators. Boynton and Parsons each hit 3-pointers in overtime as Florida outscored BYU 15-6.
But it was Tyus’ monster game that put the Gators over the top. The 6-foot-8 senior is the team’s fifth-leading scorer, averaging 8.6 points and 5.7 rebounds coming into the game.
“The thing about Alex is he never really gets fazed with the moment or with what’s going on,” Florida coach Billy Donovan said. “One of the things I’ve tried to pull out of him and get him to see is that when he has a lot of activity and he’s flying around the court, because of his athleticism, he’s got a great ability to impact a game.”
Fredette made just 3 of 15 from 3-point range and had to work for his points against the physical pressure. By the end of the night, he had a bandage on his chin from a blow in the second half and a sore calf, but the baskets kept coming until he was held scoreless in overtime.
When the outcome became apparent with one minute remaining, BYU coach Dave Rose subbed out Fredette, bringing a standing ovation from the crowd. He averaged nearly 33 points during three NCAA Tournament games and finished the season by scoring at least 30 points in seven out of eight games.
Florida now turns their attention to the Butler Bulldogs. Butler played in last year’s national championship game, losing on a last-second buzzer-beater half-court shot attempt.
The winner of the Butler Florida game will matchup against the winner of the Southwest region which still has Kansas, Richmond, Virginia Commonwealth and Florida State.
(© 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)