NEW ORLEANS, LA - MARCH 26: Vernon Macklin #32 of the Florida Gators shoots over Matt Howard #54 and Andrew Smith #44 of the Butler Bulldogs in the second half during the Southeast regional final of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at New Orleans Arena on March 26, 2011 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Florida blew an 11-point second half lead and lost in overtime to Butler 74-71.
Florida looked like the better team at times, while Butler looked like the better team at times. Florida dominated in the paint, particularly with Vernon Macklin and his 25 points on 11-14 shooting. However, Macklin got into foul trouble late causing the Gators to lose their offensive rhythm. Florida also had few answers for Butler's Shelvin Mack, who led all scorers with 27 points, or Butler's offensive rebounding prowess which netted 13. Of course, over half of Butler's shots (33 of 60) were from three point land, yielding many long and awkward rebounds.
Ultimately, the game might not have gone to overtime if Florida hadn't uncharacteristically made nearly all of its shots from the charity stripe while Butler uncharacteristically missed about half of its in regulation. Florida couldn't throw it in the ocean from three, going 3-14 on the game with several big misses late in the second half and overtime. Erving Walker was an atrocious 1-10 from the field, and SEC Player of the Year Chandler Parsons was mysteriously silent with just five points.
While Florida's refusal to keep doing what was working for it when Butler began making runs was puzzling, its end of game management was equally so. With the ball and just over 30 seconds remaining in the second half, Walker (who hadn't hit his sole field goal yet) dribbled the clock down to about four seconds before launching an off balance three. Down one with plenty of time left in overtime, Florida had Kenny Boynton take a long three with 19 seconds on the clock rather than run a real play.
Regardless, an Elite Eight appearance is not bad capper for Florida's first great season since its 2007 national title. Even so, this one will not sit well.