Studs and duds of UF's NCAA openers


Florida guard Mike Miller is hugged by teammate Teddy Dupay and a group of Gator players after UF beat Butler in overtime in an NCAA Tournament first-round game in 2000.

Dede Smith/Staff photographer/File
Published: Thursday, March 21, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, March 20, 2013 at 1:48 p.m.

Florida will play its 17th first-round game Friday (the NCAA can call it the second round, but we all know better) and the 13th under coach Billy Donovan. In the madness of March, the Gator program has seen it all. Here are the five studs and five duds from Florida's opening games:

THE STUDS

1. Florida 69, Butler 68 (OT)

The game that started Florida's 2000 run to the national title game is part of March Madness lore. Florida trailed Butler by a point when LaVall Jordan, whose grandmother had passed away during the week, missed two free throws. Mike Miller's floater at the other end went in to set off a wild celebration on the floor in Winston-Salem, N.C.




2. Florida 82, N.C. State 70

This 1987 game was the first NCAA Tournament game ever for the Gators, so it was all new to UF fans. The M&M boys got it done, as Vernon Maxwell scored 28 points and Andrew Moten had 19. Florida entered on a three-game losing streak, so nobody knew what to expect in Syracuse. But the Gators reached the Sweet 16.

3. Florida 64, James Madison 62

To start their run to their first Final Four in 1994, UF struggled mightily in the first half, scoring only 18 points. But the Gators got it going in the second half, and Dan Cross hit a layup with 7.2 seconds to play to get their win in Uniondale, N.Y. Cross had 16 points and Craig Brown 15 for the Gators.

4. Florida 112, Jackson State 69

The defending national champs were struggling in the first half of the 2007 opener, trailing at times and barely holding on to a six-point lead at halftime. But in the second half, it was another story. Florida scored 71 points to run away with it in New Orleans. Corey Brewer had 21 points to lead six UF players in double figures.

5. Florida 76, South Alabama 50

This was the game that started it all, the 12 straight NCAA wins and back-to-back national titles. The 2006 Gators were a three seed going up against former (and current) assistant John Pelphrey. Lee Humphrey had six 3-pointers and finished the game with 20 points. How about this line for Joakim Noah: 16 points, eight rebounds, seven assists, five blocks and three steals?

THE DUDS

1. Manhattan 75, Florida 60

During the span from 2001-05 when Florida was home after the first weekend of the tournament, there were some bad matchups for the Gators. This wasn't one of them. They just laid a stinky egg. Matt Walsh went 0 for 5 from the 3-point line. Anthony Roberson had five turnovers. The Gators were outrebounded, outhustled and outplayed in Raleigh, N.C.

2. Creighton 83, Florida 82 (2OT)

Florida had chances to win the 2002 game in regulation and in the first overtime, but Terrell Taylor's 3-pointer with 0.2 left was the difference in the second overtime. A five-second call on Orien Greene was a killer, and Brett Nelson, playing after getting punched by a teammate in practice, went 4 for 19 in the game.

3. Colorado State 68, Florida 46

Florida won its first SEC title in 1989, but the Gators used up so much energy, they had nothing left for the NCAA Tournament. Playing in Dallas, UF had 18 turnovers against the Rams' zone defense and shot 40 percent. The late Dwayne Schintzius was the only Florida player in double figures with 14 points.

4. Iowa State 64, Florida 61

Throughout the 1995 season, the question was whether or not Florida would make the field a year after making the Final Four. The Gators snuck in with a 17-12 record and were sent to Tallahassee of all places. A four-minute scoring drought to end the game did them in. Current Iowa State coach Fred “The Mayor” Hoiberg had 15 points in 40 minutes for the Cyclones.

5. Brigham Young 99, Florida 92 (2OT)

After two straight NIT appearances, Florida made it back to the Big Dance in 2010, but was a one-and-doner. The Gators had a chance to win the game, but Chandler Parsons missed a turnaround jumper at the buzzer. Jimmer Fredette led the Cougars with 37 points while Kenny Boynton had 27 for Florida in Oklahoma City.

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