A night to remember as Chris Chiozza’s three pointer as time expired in overtime sends the Florida Gators to the Elite Eight in a 84-83 overtime win over the Wisconsin Badgers on Friday night at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The Gators blew a 12 point lead late in the second half as Wisconsin forced OT, but missed free throws cost the Badgers in the end as the Gators miracle shot ended Wisconsin’s run in the NCAA Tournament.
Allen and the Gators began the game extremely slow as the more experienced and bigger Badgers were seemingly feeling out Mike White’s young and less experienced Gators team. Wisconsin took advantage of a 7-0 run and a 13-2 run to take a big early lead over the Gators in the first half. Nigel Hayes couldn’t miss from the field scoring nine of the Badgers first twenty two points as the Badgers once led Florida by ten points.
The Gators however found live in the closing moments of the first half as Florida went on a 21-8 run in the final 7:30 of the half to take a halftime lead at 34-32. Allen scoring six of his 15 first half points from the free throw line on costly fouls by Wisconsin behind the three point arc.
The Gators second half was much different from the start of the first as the Gators used a 9-2 run to jump out to an early 45-37 lead in the final frame, and led by as many as 12 points with 5:27 to play in the game. But the resilient Badgers never gave up going on a 16-4 run in the final 5:24 of the game to tie the game on a three pointer by Zak Showalter with 2.5 seconds to play, and the game headed to overtime.
The Badgers with the momentum from the end of regulation to a five point lead on the Gators as Florida continued to rely on the poor free throw shooting of the Badgers to keep the game close. The Badgers scored nine of their twelve points in overtime from the line, but missed five crucial free shots from the charity stripe keeping the Gators in the game.
Down five with a minute to play, the Gators scored their final seven points on a KeVaughn Allen layup, a pair of Canyon Barry free throws, a Chiozza layup with :24 seconds to play. Nigel Hayes was fouled with four seconds to play in a tie game, and hit both free throws for a two point lead for Wisconsin. But Chiozza took the inbounds and ran for the other end of the court launching a three point shot for the ages and sending the Gators to the elite eight with a 84-83 win.
Chiozza finished with eight points off the bench as KeVaughn Allen sets a career high with 35 points, which is the most points in an NCAA tournament game by any Florida Gators player in school history.
The Gators move on to play the South Carolina Gamecocks on Sunday afternoon at 2:20pm. You can hear the game on 1250am WHNZ in Tampa.
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