NEW ORLEANS (CBS4) – In the NCAA Tournament, the first part of the Final 4 was set when the 3rd ranked Florida Gators lost to 8th ranked Butler in overtime, 74-71.
Butler moves on the face the winner of Sunday’s matchup between #1 ranked Kansas and #11 VCU.
Florida had a double-digit lead in the second half, was dominating in the low post and slowly suffocating Butler’s second-straight Final Four run.
How it all went wrong will haunt the Gators for a long, long time.
Shelvin Mack scored 27 points, Matt Howard added 14 and Butler came from behind to beat Florida 74-71 in overtime, denying the Gators a third trip to the Final Four in six seasons.
Florida’s Vernon Macklin scored a career high 25 points. The Gators seemed unstoppable in the paint until late in the game when questionable shot selection by guards Kenny Boynton and Erving Walker contributed to the team’s demise.
The Gators and Butler were tied as the clock ran down in regulation play. The Gators’ Matt Howard drew a foul with 30.7 seconds left. Howard made the first, but missed the second.
The Gators ran the clock down denying Butler another shot. Florida had a chance to wrap it up with seconds left, but Erving Walker missed a three-pointer at the buzzer to force overtime, where the Gators were outplayed by Butler.
Their elimination means both Florida contenders have been eliminated in the NCAA tournament.