Florida goes to the buzzer to eliminate Butler
Posted: Friday March 17, 2000 08:34 PM
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) -- The winning play is called "Home Run." Now Mike Miller knows why.
Miller drove through the lane and scored at the buzzer to give fifth-seeded Florida a 69-68 overtime victory over Butler on Friday in the NCAA East Regional.
"I was right under the net," Florida's Kenyan Weaks said. "My first reaction was it was the greatest play I've ever seen."
Florida's bench erupted and mobbed Miller on the floor, burying him in a sea of blue and orange. The Butler players put their hands on their heads in disbelief.
"You tend to think when you're up three or four with 20 seconds to go you're going to win the game and advance. It starts creeping in," said Andrew Graves, who scored 20 points for the Bulldogs. "Then when all of a sudden, the carpet gets pulled out from underneath of you it's like the end of the world."
The play was so close that the officials went to video replay, using a rule that was added at midseason, to verify the basket. Florida advanced to play fourth-seeded Illinois, a 68-58 winner earlier in the day over Penn.
"It was just routine. They've got to review those calls to make sure they get them right," said coach Billy Donovan, who asked television reporters during the replay if the shot was good.
Miller, who finished with 16 points, got the chance to win the game after Butler's LaVall Jordan, an 83-percent free-throw shooter, missed two attempts with 8.1 seconds left.
Jordan had just rejoined the team Thursday night following the death of his great aunt, who raised him since he was a child.
Butler coach Barry Collier was in tears during his postgame news conference talking about Jordan's missed opportunities.
"We told him we loved him," Collier said. "I think he knows all those things, but you can imagine how distraught he is."
Graves hit a 3-pointer with 30.5 seconds left in overtime that gave the Bulldogs a 68-65 lead. Weaks made a layup 20 seconds later.
The 6-foot-8 Miller, who also had 13 rebounds, got the ball at the left side of the key with about three seconds left. Instead of pulling up for a jumper, Florida's leading scorer drove inside and just got off the short shot in the lane before the buzzer.
"He's done a great job of preparing us for every situation," Miller said of Donovan.
"They deserved to win," Collier said of the Gators. "They kept coming back and you have to admire their play. Florida earned this game, but this is one that could have gone a few more overtimes because of the passion by both teams. Billy (Donovan) never let them quit."
The score was tied at 46 with 10:07 left before Butler went on an 8-2 run. Graves hit a 3-pointer during the spurt on the first possession that the Gators tried a zone defense.
Florida (25-7) trailed by seven six minutes later, but refused to give in to the Bulldogs (23-8). Two free throws by Udonis Haslem tied it at 60 with 15.2 seconds left.
That set up a potential game-winner in regulation for Butler, but Jordan missed a 16-footer.
Butler shot 36 percent, but forced Florida into 19 turnovers.
Graves, scoreless in 20 minutes in the title game of the Midwestern Collegiate Conference tournament, made four 3-pointers and was 8-for-9 from the line.
Butler, which last beat an SEC team in 1958, came out tight, going 1-for-8 from the field with four turnovers as Florida built a 17-9.
Graves hit two NBA-range 3-pointers and two free throws in a two-minute span as Butler used a 14-2 run to take the lead.
The Gators were able to get three follow shots in the final
three minutes of the half to regain the lead at 31-29.