The eyes of the country converge on the city that never sleeps. The bright lights of New York City would be the sight of a highly-anticipated showdown.
Time for round two in @TheGarden!
In the hallowed halls of the “World’s Most Famous Arena”, Madison Square Garden played host to the NCAA Sweet Sixteen. In a matchup rooted in pride and respect, no. 4 Florida faced no. 8 Wisconsin. One team, looking to get one step closer to redemption. The other, simply looking for respect.
A Rocky First Half
After a rough start with the Gators down 11, the comeback begins. The team goes into the half 34-32, coming back from that deficit to begin the start of the second. The game began with a jumper from G KeVaughn Allen to start the momentum, but Wisconsin would take over.
One player responsible for the dominance in the beginning was F Ethan Happ of Wisconsin, totaling 16 points and going 7/11 in FGs. F Nigel Hayes would also put up 16 points, helping the Badgers take the early lead in the first.
One player who would struggle during the tournament is the previously mentioned Allen. The sophomore would turn it all the way on tonight. He’d find the rhythm to get going and ends the first half going 4/12 in FG’s on the night and went to the locker room totaling 15 points. Devin Robinson would start slow, going 1/1 in three-point FGs, but would be an impact player in the second half.
A Tale of Two Halves
Not only that, but the Badgers controlled the first 12 minutes of the game, but those determined boys from Gainesville called the momentum train to lead them to the reserve of energy and confidence that brought them success.
HALF: 34-32 ?
— Gators M-Basketball (@GatorsMBK) March 25, 2017
The start of the second can be described as a roller coaster. For the first time all game, Florida took the lead for the first time all game. The continued effort of Allen would be the difference maker, securing the school record for most points in a single NCAA tournament game with 35 points. It was a shootout from start to finish of the second half. Wisconsin would mount a comeback for a little while, but the Gators would put an end to the comeback season toward the end.
Allen would become the star of the show for Florida, going a total of 11/24 on FGs on the night, 9/10 in FTs and 4/12 in 3-pts. With a combined team effort including F Justin Leon, F/C Kevarrius Hayes, putting up eight points and going 2/4 in FGs and 4/9 in FTs, and Robinson, who put up seven points tonight, the team had an outstanding showing in the second half, going shot for shot with the Badgers.
After the end of the second, the game would go into overtime with a three pointer from G Zak Showalter to make it 72-all. After the extra five minutes, the Gators would come out the ultimate victors in the showdown from New York. G Chris Chiozza would put the final nail in the coffin with an INSANE three-pointer at the buzzer.
Who Goes from Elite to Phoenix?
Florida now faces the no. 7-seed South Carolina Gamecocks in the Elite Eight of March Madness. For both teams, they can say their run went from hopeful to sweet to elite. For South Carolina, they’re swimming in waters they’ve never charted before. They enter the field with one goal in mind: history. They’re on the road to silencing the critics and the odds for one final time. They enter this game looking to remove all doubt once and for all. For Florida , it’s about vindication. Once more, history is in the making.
One more big time event takes place in New York. Madison Square Garden will be the site of victory and its spoils for one and the site of soul-crushing defeat for the other. More details will follow in the coming days.