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Florida Finishes in Grand Style

March 18, 2000|From Staff and Wire Reports

The winning play is called "home run." Now Mike Miller knows why.

Miller drove through the lane and scored at the buzzer to give No. 5-seeded Florida a 69-68 overtime victory over No. 12 Butler Friday in the NCAA East Regional at Winston-Salem, N.C.

The play was so close that the officials went to video replay, using a rule that was added at midseason to verify the basket.

Miller, who finished with 16 points, got the chance to win the game after Butler's LaVall Jordan, an 83% free-throw shooter, missed two attempts with 8.1 seconds left. Jordan had 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.

"We told him we loved him," Collier said. "I think he knows all those things, but you can imagine how distraught he is."

A three-point basket by Andrew Graves with 30.5 seconds left in overtime gave Butler (23-8) a 68-65 lead. Kenyan Weaks countered with a layup with 10.5 seconds.

After Jordan's second miss, Miller--Florida's leading scorer at 14.3 points a game--got the ball at the left side of the key with about three seconds left. Instead of pulling up for a jumper, he drove inside and just got off the shot in the lane before the buzzer. Florida had no timeouts, so Coach Billy Donovan got Miller's attention and called for the "home run" play after Jordan missed the first free throw.

"He's done a great job of preparing us for every situation," said Miller.

Florida trailed by seven with six minutes left in regulation, but came back to tie the score at 60-60 on two free throws by Udonis Haslem with 15.2 seconds left. Jordan missed a 16-foot shot at the buzzer.

Illinois 68, Pennsylvania 58--Freshman guard Frank Williams made six of nine shots and scored 21 points to lead the Illini (22-9) past the Quakers (21-8).

Williams took numerous open shots as Pennsylvania focused its perimeter defense on Cory Bradford, Illinois' leading scorer at 15.3 points a game,. Bradford missed his first six shots, didn't get a basket until five minutes into the second half, and finished with five points on two-for-nine shooting.

Pennsylvania shot 37% in losing for the first time in 17 games. Michael Jordan, the Ivy League's player of the year, had only eight points.

Illinois plays Florida in the second round Sunday. Illinois Coach Lon Kruger was at Florida from 1990-96, leading the Gators to the Final Four in 1994.

Kansas 81, DePaul 77--Making key defensive plays and closing the game with a 10-0 run in the final 1:57 of overtime, the No. 8 Jayhawks (24-9) won its first tournament game for the 17th consecutive time and spoiled the first NCAA appearance by the No. 9 Blue Demons (21-12) since 1992.

Kansas failed to score on its first four possessions of overtime, helping DePaul to take a 77-71 lead on Paul McPherson's free throw with 2:23 left.

But Kansas battled back and Kenny Gregory--who made 11 of 12 shots and had 22 points--evened score at 77 when he stole an errant pass and scored on a breakaway dunk. Gregory was also fouled on the play. He missed the free throw, but Kansas got the rebound, leading to a driving layup by Nick Bradford that put the Jayhawks ahead at 79-77 with 48 seconds left.

The outcome was in doubt until Bradford blocked a three-point shot by Quentin Richardson with three seconds left and Kansas up by three. The Jayhawks' Lester Earl grabbed the loose ball, was fouled and made a free throw to account for the final margin.

Duke 82, Lamar 55--The No. 1 Blue Devils (28-4) struggled for most of the first half against the No. 15 (and 32-point underdog) Cardinals (15-16), but scored made their first eight shots of the second half from inside the key to pull away.

Jason Williams led Duke with 18 points and seven assists, but freshman Carlos Boozer, who had 16 points, was the difference in the second half as he made five consecutive shots.

Duke will play Kansas in the second round Sunday.

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