Chants of “Chandler! Chandler! Chandler!” rang throughout the Stephen C. O’Connell Center Saturday night as a second game-winning, buzzer-beating three-pointer of the season by junior forward Chandler Parsons helped the Florida Gators (14-5, 3-2 SEC) pull off a last-second 58-56 victory over the South Carolina Gamecocks (11-8, 2-3 SEC). Parsons, whose previous buzzer-beater came on a 75-foot shot against the N.C. State Wolfpack in overtime on Jan. 3, was similarly shutout from downtown (0-for-3) before hitting the clincher.
“After the shot, Dan [Werner] was heady enough to get the ball out fast and Erving [Walker] made a real unselfish play by finding me, and I was just fortunate enough to knock it down,” Parsons told ESPN after the game. “I’m a confident shooter. If I miss four or if I miss 10, I’m going to keep shooting the ball with the same amount of confidence.”
Read the Florida Gators vs. South Carolina Gamecocks game story after the jump!
His miraculous trey came after a dynamic layup by Gamecocks guard Devan Downey, who spun out of a triple team to make an off-balance layup with 5.1 seconds left in the game. Downey, who shot 12-for-25 for a game-high 36 points, went back-and-forth with the Gators over the last 90 seconds of the contest. He nailed a three to tie it up at 50, but an athletic layup by Florida freshman guard Kenny Boynton put the Gators back on top 52-50 with 2:44 still on the clock.
Downey responded with two free throws to knot it at 52 with 1:30 remaining and nailed a jumper with 20.2 seconds left to give South Carolina the lead. On the next play, he fouled Boynton on a three-pointer with 11 seconds left. Boynton would hit all three of his free throws, propelling UF a 55-54 lead before Downey’s amazing layup.
Sophomore point guard Erving Walker once again led the way for the Gators in the first half, beginning the game with a three and finishing the initial period with eight points. He was visibly exhausted in the second half and only added five more points, though he did post seven assists and five rebounds while finishing 3-for-4 from downtown. Junior F Alex Tyus made his first three baskets of the game, ending with 12 points on 6-of-10 shooting and nine rebounds. Boynton was the dynamo of second half, scoring all 14 of his points after making his first shot with 18 minutes remaining in the game. He was 0-for-5 from downtown but kept the ball on the ground in the second half.
Parsons finished with a true double-double of 10 points and a team-high 10 rebounds. Senior F Dan Werner, shrouded in controversy this season, began 0-for-3 before hitting an important layup late in the game. He would, however, be victimized a few times after that and missed an even more crucial layup in the waning minutes of the contest.
Florida may very well be headed back into the top 25 with their victory. However, they will instead focus on an inspired Georgia Bulldogs team that throttled the No. 8 Tennessee Volunteers 78-63 Saturday. The rivalry game commences on Wed., Jan. 27 at 7 p.m. and will air on CSS.
Notes: Head football coach Urban Meyer was in attendance along with tight ends coach Brian White and visiting recruits including five-star defensive end commitment Ronald Powell. Five-star safety commitment and early enrollee Matt Elam was honored as Mr. Football for the state of Florida at halftime. Downey scored his 2,000th career point on a free throw at the end of the first half.
Photo Credit: Aaron E. Daye/The Gainesville Sun