Parsons delivers another miracle shot for Gators


Published: Saturday, January 23, 2010 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, January 24, 2010 at 12:10 a.m.

Kenny Boynton didn't see the shot go in.

“I just watched his form and then waited for his reaction,” Boynton said.

Alex Tyus saw it. He liked it so much he peered over Doug Show's shoulder as the official watched the monitor to make sure it was released before the clock expired.

“I just had to look at it,” Tyus said. “I had to see it again to make sure it was real.”

It was real. And surreal.

After 39 minutes and 59 seconds of intense and sometimes ugly basketball, Florida dialed up Chandler Parsons again. On a list of players you would have liked to take a 3-point shot at the buzzer, Parsons would have been down on it. He had missed his previous three tries.

But when he let it go, you thought there was a chance. Maybe it was because of what happened in Raleigh. Maybe it was because he was due. Maybe it was because he had played his rear off for the 36 minutes he was on the floor.

“It's just unbelievable,” he said. “How does this keep happening to me? I can't stop smiling.”

Parsons' shot, three weeks to the day from when his 75-footer beat N.C. State, seemed to stay in the air forever. Last-second shots with a game on the line tend to float as if they were filled with helium.

“It took forever,” said Erving Walker.

Seemed to.

Floating, floating and then the bottom of the net. Parsons turned and ran the length of the floor with a smile as big as Devan Downey's heart (I'll get to him). He collapsed under a dog pile under the other basket at precisely the same spot where Anthony Roberson was mobbed the last time a Gator hit a buzzer-beater at home (Georgia, 2003).

“I was under a pile of 20 6-foot-9 guys,” he said.

Some players go their whole careers without hitting a shot to win a game. Parsons had never had one until his heave against N.C. State.

“Two buzzer-beaters in my life,” he smiled.

It was a blurry-fast play, Dan Werner ripping the ball from the net after Downey's incredible shot that looked as if it would win the game and firing it up the court to Erving Walker, who used what speed he had left on tired legs to race the ball up the court. There was no set play but Werner's quick-thinking and Walker's hustle kept South Carolina from being able to set its defense.

Parsons was wide open, a rarity on a night where both sides played vicious defense and hand-checks were not only ignored but encouraged.

“If he missed, think how miserable he'd feel,” Billy Donovan said.

But he didn't.

And so the story lives on of a player who was a struggling freshman and sophomore living in the shadow of Nick Calathes and now has become a folk hero to the Gator Nation.

“I'm happy for Chandler,” Donovan said.

Who isn't?

OK, I'm sure nobody who follows South Carolina is. The Gamecocks came in with a basic game plan that involved Downey getting the ball late in the shot clock and making something happen. And he usually did. Downey scored 36 points. The rest of the visiting team managed 20.

And his last two were the most amazing of all. You knew who was going to take the shot and Florida certainly did. They put two defenders on the diminutive guard and it didn't matter. He blew by Walker and Boynton. Tyus helped out. So did Parsons. It was almost as if the rest of the Gamecocks were sitting on the bench watching. And somehow he got a shot off that went in for the lead with five seconds to play.

Parsons said he fouled Downey on the play. Walker said Downey double-dribbled. Call it a wash.

All that mattered was that he made the shot. All that mattered was that it set Florida up for another miracle.

“As a coach, all you want is a chance,” Donovan said.

A clean look. A shot to win the game.

Who else to take it?

The miracle worker.

Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or dooleyp@gvillesun.com. Also check out Dooley's blog at gatorsports.com.

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