Vernon Macklin’s last game in a Florida Gator uniform didn’t end the way he envisioned despite having one of the best and most dominating performances of his career. Alex Tyus gave another valiant effort just as he did in the previous game against BYU, but fell short. There was no Chandler Parsons buzzer beater like Mike Miller’s against Butler University in 2000. When the overtime buzzer sounded for the second consecutive game in the NCAA Tournament for the Florida Gators (29-8) it didn’t end the way Gatornation had hoped either. The Butler Bulldogs had defeated the Florida Gators 74-71.
Alex Tyus opened the game for Florida with a jumper, but Butler answered with back -to-back threes, the first from about the 28ft mark.
For the first five minutes, Vernon Macklin was aggressively effective in the paint with six of the Gators’ eight points.
After the first television timeout, Butler took the lead with a quick jumper, 10-8, but Chandler Parsons’ answered with his first three pointer and the Gators took the lead, a lead they would keep throughout the first half.
Butler’s Shelvin Mack drove on Scottie Wilbekin, elbowing him in the face, but Wilbekin was called for the foul because both of his feet were not. Billy Donovan took him out of the game, but he would return a few minutes later.
Parsons missed a layup, got his own rebound, and made the layup for a five point Florida lead. Kenny Boynton extended the lead when he was fouled attempting a three pointer, and made all three shots from the foul line.
Butler went on a 7-0 run, which was ended on a Boynton breakaway to bring the score to 27-22. Butler answered with a three to come within two.
Butler cut the lead in half with one minute remaining in the first, capitalizing on a Tyus turnover with yet another three pointer, but Walker was fouled and made both shots at the charity line to put the Gators back up by three.
Kyle Marshall’s jumper in the waning seconds of the first half brought Butler within one, and Walker’s mid court three point missed, ending the half 33-32 Florida.
Macklin ended the first half with 15 Pts. (shooting 7-for-9) and 2 rebounds, and Parsons had the lone three pointer for Florida who went 1-4 3FG in the half. Mack and Zach Hahn had all five of Butler’s threes , shooting 5-for-9 behind the arc.
The Gators were 8-8 at the free throw line, and dominated Butler down low 16-10. There were seven total turnovers by both teams in the first half.
Vernon Macklin continued his domination in the paint to open the second half with the first basket, but another three pointer for the Bulldogs, followed by a scoreless Gator possession, and a jumper by Butler gave them the first lead since early in the first half.
Andrew Smith and Chase Stigall were called for back-to-back non-shooting fouls, keeping the Gators in possession with the game tied at 37.
Macklin had the first six second half points for the Gators, until Tyus exploded with consecutive dunks, keeping the front court dominated by the Florida forwards, bringing the Gator lead back up to four at 43-39.
Boynton heated up the back court, hitting his first two shots of the second half, to extend Florida’s lead 47-40.
Alex Tyus intercepted a pass off of a Butler inbound, fouled by Smith, made both FTs and made an inside jumper to give Florida their largest lead of the game at 11, 51-40.
Four consecutive points by the Bulldogs cut the Gators’ lead to seven, but a Tyus tip-in off of a Parsons baseline jumper put the Gators back up by nine. Erik Murphy picked up Florida’s eighth foul before the 8-minute television timeout.
A Florida turnover resulted in another field goal for Butler, as Boynton mis-fired at the other end, Butler got the rebound, and Chrishawn Hopkins made another three for Butler, bringing them to within five with just over six minutes left in regulation.
Parsons forced a turnover and sent the ball down court for Boynton, who made the easy layup. VanZant made the second Butler 3FG in a row, the eighth for the Bulldogs from behind the arc. Young was fouled on the following possession after a Tyus miss, making both shots from the FT, and keeping the Gators a perfect 12/12 from the line, and the score in the Gators’ favor at 57-52. Butler went on a five point run with just over three minutes left in regulation to tie it up at 57. Macklin was fouled by Smith, and missed the first free throw which was also the first missed from the line for Florida with 2:33 left in the second half.
A foul by Young sent Matt Howard to the line, where he made one of two FTs, tying the game up at 60. The Gators had the last possession of regulation, but Walker mis-fired his jumper sending the game to overtime tied at 60-60.
Florida won the overtime tip-off to open overtime, and Boynton was fouled by Smith, sending him to the Butler bench and out of the game. Boytnon missed the first FT, but made the second for a one point Florida lead. Howard answered on the other end with a layup, but would foul Macklin on the next possession. Macklin made 1-for-2, and tied the game at 62.
Marshall was fouled on a jumper by Tyus, and made the and-1, giving the Bulldogs the three point lead 65-62 with 3:33 remaining in overtime.
Florida and Butler exchanged free throws and three pointers for most of the next two minutes. With 1:07 left, Marshall fouled Walker who could have tied the game at 72 if he made both shots, but missed the first, leaving Butler at a one point advantage.
Tyus intentionally fouled Mack to stop the clock at: 10, who made both free throws, giving Butler a 74-71 lead. Walker missed a three pointer with eight seconds left, Ronald Nored grabbed the rebound but the ball was stolen by Boynton with one second on the clock. Boynton fired the last shot from beyond half court, but didn’t connect, and Butler defeated the Gators with a final score of 74-71.
The Gators are losing three starting seniors (Parsons, Tyus, and Macklin), but next season will be adding Bradley Beal, ranked the seventh best out of possible 100 according to ESPNU, and Walter Pitchford PF.
In the locker room after the game, Billy Donovan addressed his players: “When a group of guys decide to come together and try to become a team, like a real team, a lot of great things can be accomplished,” Donovan said. “And what happens is when you go after trying to accomplish something, there is the threat, there is the other side that the losing is even more painful because you have so much vested in each other individually.”