Clutch baskets for Gators
Published: Thursday, March 27, 2014 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, March 28, 2014 at 10:38 a.m.
MEMPHIS — When the shot went up, Billy Donovan was hoping for a rebound.
“When he shot it, I thought it had no chance of going in,” said the Florida coach.
But it did. Somehow.
And it was one of the biggest shots of a wild game. Shocking that Wilbekin made it, eh?
The game had a theme and that was Florida looking like it would pull away and then UCLA making it interesting again. The Bruins were on a mini-run that had cut the lead to five at 68-63.
Wilbekin drove with the shot clock winding down, but David Wear, who Wilbekin had blown past for a layup earlier in the game, was playing impressive defense.
Wilbekin went to shoot, but Wear was right there. As a result, the Florida senior had to shoot a kind of floating, banking hook shot.
“I was just trying to get the ball up on the backboard,” Wilbekin said. “I wanted to give the bigs a chance to rebound.”
Instead, it hit softly on the backboard and fell through for a seven-point lead. Florida was able to pull away for the win and advance to the Elite Eight.
“When I saw it hit the backboard kind of soft, I thought it could go in,” said Donovan. “Some guys in that situation, ego-wise, want to take the shot and they take bad shots. Scottie was put into a tough situation because Wear played great defense on him.”
It was part of a run that Wilbekin had to lift the Gators in the game's crucial moments, much like he did in the Round of 32 game against Pittsburgh.
Wilbekin finished the game with 13 points and no turnovers despite going 1-of-7 in the first half.
“My shots weren't falling and I just tried to stay the course and keep playing my game,” Wilbekin said. “When the game is on the line, that's when it's the funnest to play. If I'm going to take the shot, I have to have confidence in myself.”
Wilbelin's shot was huge, but the biggest of all might have been a baseline jumper by Dorian Finney-Smith after UCLA had scored seven straight points to cut the Florida lead to 56-55. The shot ignited a 10-0 run that included a Wilbekin 3-point shot and a three-point play.
Florida's bench definitely won the day with 23 points to UCLA's 11. Kasey Hill ended up playing 28 minutes and finished the game with 10 assists.
“They have two point guards so it's easy to take care of the ball when you have two point guards out there,” said UCLA's Kyle Anderson. “They did a great job.”
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