A special night for seniors, Adam Allen


Published: Tuesday, March 1, 2011 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, March 2, 2011 at 12:13 a.m.

It wasn't a run, it was an avalanche. The points kept riding the snowball picking up steam and mass as it flew down the hill.

The crowd was losing it. The coaches were encouraging it to keep going. Anthony Grant felt hopeless on the other bench.

Nobody enjoyed it more than Adam Allen.

The senior will almost assuredly never step onto a basketball floor again dressed out in a uniform and taped up. He hadn't since his freshman year because of knee injuries.

But on Tuesday night as the snowball got so big it took over the O'Connell Center, Adam Allen played. For 25 seconds he was out on the court, dribbling during most of it and letting the clock run down.

“I wanted to shoot,” he said. “But Coach (Billy) D(onovan) wouldn't let me.”

Had it been Tennessee? That's another story.

“But I have too much respect for Coach Grant,” Allen said.

The plan was for Donovan to try to get him in the game despite the fact that he hadn't dressed for a game since his first season in Gainesville.

And as the lead grew, he knew it was a possibility. It was 24, then 26. The other seniors had come out to thunderous applause as the seconds ticked down. Finally, Allen was told to go in. Alabama had the ball and two Gators grabbed Tide players to stop the clock.

“I was stretching on the sidelines when the lead got big,” Allen said. “I checked my jersey three or four times to make sure it was still on. I didn't want to pull my warm-up off and not have a jersey on.”

When it was over, there were embraces and exchanged hand slaps. After a disappointing three seasons, Allen had his moment. On Senior Night, he wrapped up the perfect ending for the home careers of the seniors.

“It couldn't have ended any better,” Alex Tyus said.

The three senior starters scored 50 points. They had 26 rebounds.

Nice way to go out.

Oh, yeah, they clinched a share of an SEC title.

Really nice.

And they did it with a near perfect half of basketball.

“That's the best half we've played during my whole career,” Tyus said.

Agreed.

The first half was ugly but it wasn't just that suffocating Alabama offense that made it so. They missed their first 10 3-point attempts, but they weren't contested looks. Nobody was guarding them at the free throw line where they missed six times. On Florida's first possession, it took five offensive rebounds for them to score. They were tied at the half despite forcing 11 Alabama turnovers.

Nerves or emotion?

“I thought we looked tired and drained,” Donovan said.

But the second half was ridiculously good.

As good as I've ever seen from a Florida team.

They shot 69 percent from the field. They missed only two free throws. Vernon Macklin was unstoppable inside and things started to click from the outside. Florida hit eight of its last 11 3-point tries.

“We started going inside-out,” Macklin said. “Everything started to work. Shots in the paint, threes, defense, rebounds. Everything.”

Florida's 48 second-half points against a team that was giving up only 59 points a game in SEC competition was stunning.

“It seemed like the whole second half was a run,” Tyus said.

They ran and ran and ran all night. They executed and dominated. They finished a special home season with an amazing night.

“I don't think I could have scripted it any better,” Donovan said. “These guys will leave with something so significant.”

You couldn't have seen this two three years ago. But these seniors came full circle from being dressed down at the post-SEC press conference when they were freshmen to having their coach gush over them as seniors.

All of them.

Even Adam Allen.

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