Mack outdoes Macklin as (8) Bulldogs eliminate (2) Gators in overtime, 74-71

By Adam Silverstein
March 26, 2011

Blowing an 11-point second-half lead and missing two three-pointers with the time ticking away in overtime, the (2) Florida Gators (29-8) were eliminated from the 2011 NCAA Tournament on Saturday, falling to the (8) Butler Bulldogs (27-9) 74-71 in the Elite Eight at the New Orleans Arena in New Orleans, LA.

Despite redshirt senior center Vernon Macklin posting a career-high 25 points on 11-of-14 shooting, his four fouls proved to be a liability down the stretch. Butler guard Shelvin Mack was quick and elusive all game, scoring a game-high 27 points including his team’s final five in extra time.

[EXPAND Click to expand and read the entire game story.]Starting the game with gusto, Mack was responsible his team’s first eight points as Macklin countered by contributing 13 of his team’s first 25.

The Gators used a 7-0 run to jump out to a 10-point lead with 7:01 remaining, but the Bulldogs finished the half on a 17-8 run to cut UF’s advantage to just one point.

The Gators frontcourt scored their first 18 points of the game and was responsible for 11-of-12 baskets in the opening half; a fastbreak dunk from sophomore guard Kenny Boynton was the backcourt’s only field goal.

Butler forward Matt Howard began the second half with a bang, hitting a three-pointer out of the gate to give the Bulldogs their first lead since 14:12 remained in the first half.

Leading 37-35, Butler missed 13 of their next 14 field goals as Florida took off on a 14-3 run – including eight points by senior F Alex Tyus and a pair of layups by Boynton – to jump ahead a game-high 11 points, 51-40. Macklin, who sat on the bench for four minutes with three fouls, picked up his fourth two seconds after he returned and immediately left the court with 9:00 to go.

The Bulldogs did not wait long to get back in the game, using a miscue by Tyus and a quick pace to create a 9-2 run that cut the Gators’ lead to four points with 6:35 to play.

After sitting out 7:48 due to his four fouls, Macklin returned to the court for Florida. However, Butler continued to chip away at their deficit, using a 5-0 run to tie the game at 57 apiece with 3:02 remaining in the contest.

With the Gators leading 60-59 and 33.7 seconds left, the Bulldogs inbounded the ball to Howard, who missed a jumper but was fouled with 30.7 seconds still on the clock. He proceeded to hit only one of two free throws, but Walker missed a trey at the buzzer to send the game into overtime tied at 60.

Tied at 62, Butler F Khyle Marshall turned an offensive rebound into a three-point play, putting his team ahead with 3:33 to play. With the Bulldogs back up three, Boynton found himself open at the top of the key and hit a huge three to tie the game at 67 with 2:21 left.

Two free throws by BU later, Walker put the Gators back ahead with his first field goal of the game, a three-pointer from the left elbow. Mack responded in kind, hitting a dagger trey to give Butler a 72-70 lead. On the line for two shots, Walker only hit one and the Bulldogs got the ball back with 52.1 seconds left and a one-point advantage.

Mack missed an open three-pointer on Butler’s next possession, giving the ball back to Florida down one with 29.2 seconds remaining. Quick out of the timeout, Boynton clanked a long but open three-pointer and Howard stole the rebound from Tyus, who fouled Mack on the next inbounds play. Mack hit both free throws, allowing the Gators one last chance to hit a three with 10.6 seconds to go.

Receiving the ball from Boynton, Walker threw up a three-pointer with eight seconds left but hit the front of the rim as the Bulldogs ran on the court to celebrate their second-straight appearance in the Final Four.

Butler hit nine more treys than Florida, a major difference in the game considering how cold UF was from beyond the arc. Howard was the Bulldogs’ only other double-digit scorer, posting 14 points and five rebounds.

Tyus achieved his second-straight double-double for the Gators with 14 points and 10 boards, while Boynton contributed 17 points on 5-of-9 shooting. Walker, who was a sloppy 1-for-10 from the field and 1-for-7 from three, added eight points (five on free throws).

Florida’s loss was their first in the Elite Eight in school history; previously the Gators were 4-0 in the NCAA Regional Finals, advancing to the Final Four each time and the national title game on three occasions. Butler won its first overtime game of the season on Saturday; they were 0-3 before the victory.


Tyus, Macklin and Boynton were all honored with nominations to the 2011 NCAA All-Southeast Region Team. They were joined by Howard and Mack of Butler, the latter of whom also won the region’s Most Valuable Player award.

Photo Credit: Patrick Semansky/Associated Press[/EXPAND]


  1. Ken (CA) says:

    How Disappointing. They really had that game and blew it. No one but Macklin could hit a shot, and they stopped dumping it down the middle where they were dominant just allowing Butler to keep coming back. Then after a great free throw shooting day, the 2 that would have iced the game are missed. And what was Walker thinking at the end of regulation? He who plans to be a hero, often ends up a goat…

  2. Mr2Bits says:

    Easy for their Mack to outdo ours when he is sitting on the bench with 4 crap fouls and our clutch shooter go cold like they have no arms. Great season as a whole but we went out on a pile of dog crap

  3. scooterp says:

    As disappointed as I am right now – (they should have won) – making it to the elite eight was about where I thought they belonged. The problem – I got excited when they unvailed the brackets. Then the SE region seemed to be more and more of shoe in for us with each game. I can take it when we just get blown up against a team that is just better. When we got housed against Michigan st. in 2000, I just turned off the tv and went to bed – when we thumped by Nebraska in 06, same thing. But damn it, we should have won that game tonight.

    Good season, though. Nice run, boys, sorry its over.

  4. Joe says:

    We have to be the worst team ever coming out of a timeout. Throwing up a 3 has become Billy’s dive play.

    • Mr2Bits says:

      I had been joking with some buddy’s that Adazzio put on a widows peaked wig and snuck into the arena to call the last few plays in reg and OT. Seems like he’s like herpes and the gift that keeps on giving.

  5. DCgator says:

    Very disappointed with the plays Billy drew up at the end of regulation and overtime (assuming the players followed coach’s direction). We had two golden opportunities to win, and choked.

    Nonetheless, it was a great season and Donovan did a great job motivating this squad. If you had told me we’d make it to within a play of the Final 4 after the Jacksonville loss, I would have laughed in your face. I will dearly miss Parsons, but we’ll be even better next year with Beal and a more polished Young.

    • Ken (CA) says:

      And Rosario will be eligible- we should be lights out from the perimeter next season

    • Mr2Bits says:

      This was our year to do something. Next year will not be a good year so don’t get your expectations too high. 20 wins season will be a God send much like a 9 win season in football.

      • scooterp says:

        We did do something – We made it to the frking elite 8! I’m upset, just like everyone else. But b-ball more than any other sport is built on momentum – they just had more of it.

        And I refuse to pile on Billy D tonight and those of you that are – remember what it was like before he came.

      • Tractorr says:

        I don’t know we could be better next year than this. Young is a more talented player than Macklin and same with Murphy and Tyus. Of course Macklin and Tyus were the more experienced players so they were the better starters, but with the experience that Young and Murphy got this year they will be really good next. Also, Rosario averaged what 20 points a game at Rutgers? Plus Beal coming in, we are going to have 5 viable guards to rotate in and out. Remember the 04’s weren’t supposed to be as good as they were and we all know how that turned out.

  6. jay d says:

    I’ve watched a ton of tourney games this year…and what I have noticed is that one team gets screwed on tick tack foul calls while the other team hacks away unpunished…reguardless of how I feel about the gator loss…..I do not like how the ncaa switched up officiating crews and mixed up reffs who havnt worked together all year….we shhould have blown this team away from the begining …but we let them hang around to steal the win from us in OT….sad day for gator fans!

  7. John S. says:

    When your shooters have a cold night, you will lose a game like this. I don’t know if it was by design, but they took walker and Parsons off their game. It’s a shame that Macklin got the BS fouls, as that shut us down. The foul on Murphy for his weak pick was also BS.

    Overall though great season. Good luck Macklin, Parsons and Tournament MVP Tyus. Love you guys.

  8. Derek says:

    Billy got out coached plain and simple. Horrible call the last two possessions of regulation with no plays or your best player Macklin. Beat them in all stats but Billy lost it for us

    • You guys need to stop blaming Donovan. The game is won and lost on the court. He did not blow a 11-point lead in the second half and he did not make a bunch of ridiculous foul calls on Florida going down the stretch. Team isn’t where they are without him. Should be praising his efforts this season not blaming him because Boynton chose to chuck a deep three and Walker didn’t pass it or drive at the end of regulation.

      • Mr2Bits says:

        I think some of the frustration also stems from the last game and the poor end of reg play designs Billy or the players have drawn up. I know for me when I saw that we had a chance to win it, my gut told me we wouldn’t execute the way a team like Kentucky or other teams can at the end of games I have seen. I do have flashback to the Georgia game and how that ended but lets face it, that was pure luck and when tonight skill and ability could have won this game, we come out looking clueless. Just people being frustrated at opportunity lost.

        • Understood. The play call was not for Walker to do that. He was supposed to drive (or try to) and kick. Ball should have been in Boynton’s hands to drive with the bigs crashing for a put-back. Just want my readers to direct anger in right place – not at Donovan.

          • Ken (CA) says:

            I have to agree with you even though I don’t know the thoughts of Coach… I can’t imagine he would have drawn up a play solely to hope that Walker could hit a shot…especially when he was 1 of 7 or so at the time. I think Walker did that himself, wanting to be the hero. Hence my first comment.

            I did find it interesting, however, how shallow the bench was tonight. Prather and Yeguette didn’t even play..

          • Daniel M. says:

            Adam, if you say that was the call I believe you. But that makes me curious about 1) how do you know that was the call and 2) why was Walker running around the perimeter? Complete head scrathcers on these failed three bombs and I’m not even talking about the final play. They shot 3’s at the end of regulation and at the end of OT. Are you telling me the guys just continually ignored Billy? I have a tough time buying that.

            • I’m not saying that was the call as a definitive statement. But based on Stevens’ comments and how the players were positioned on the court (and even how Walker moved) it looked like he was supposed to do something but decided not to. Such is the problem you have when you put the ball in the hands of someone that is 5’8″. If he was 6’2″, you would have seen a drive inside.

          • NCGATOR says:

            Adam; I don’t buy that! The same shot was taken at the end of regulation and in overtime. There was never an attempt to drive the middle. I can’t believe a player, particularly at this point, would disregard his coach’s called play, not once but twice, and fire up a prayer on his own. In addition, Donovan changed his whole strategy in the second half and went away from feeding the big guys under the basket (which was working) to firing longer shots on the perimeter. That was the worst second half coaching job I’ve ever seen. The players didn’t lose this game, Donovan did.
            This was a stupid way to lose

            • Not sure why you are referencing me in this comment? I think the fault is 50/50. Donovan’s decision was to put the ball in his guards’ hands and each play likely had two options. On the court, they settled for the threes. Like he said, I don’t have as much of a problem with Walker’s as I do with Boynton’s. Mid-range or to-the-hoop would have been preferable in either case.

      • Derek says:

        Why not blame Donovan? Where was Macklin at the end? I know he was in foul trouble and he can’t hit foul shots, but he was dominating inside. If he got fouled, I prefer him trying to hit one out of two instead of keeping the ball in Walker’s hands. Above all just call a TO, you have two left, set-up a play. Look at FSU on Friday, same thing, no TO and they lose.

  9. GatorsAlumLA says:

    Watched the game at my local socal Gator Club, it was great to be with fellow alums, greater still if we advanced to the Final Four. It was fun until we lost.

    Too many ill advised threes, execution was poor.

    Why did we go away from the post and Vernon Macklin?


    • Ken (CA) says:

      That has been my question as well. Butler had NO answer for our bigs. The ball should have gone into the paint everytime until they found a way to stop it. I don’t understand why Boynton/Walker started rushing down the court in the 2nd half taking quick 3s. Granted, they were good looks, but the template to win was established. Butler had no answer for Macklin/Tyus/Young

  10. John S. says:

    Macklin had four fouls with 9:00 left (one was wrongly charged to him and one was BS sissy flooping), that’s what killed our inside game.

  11. scooterp says:

    I understand Macklin not being in the game, at the end. You can’t trade 3 pointers with less than 50% freethrow shooting, which is what they were doing. And Walker had a good look at the end of regulation – no problem with him taking that shot. But, we play so much better when everyone touches the ball on the offensive end – than finally finding the open man. We got away from that at the end. It became Walker and Boynton playing keep away.

    Also, I thought the full court press was a failure. It clearly wasn’t rattling them the same way it did against Wisconsin. All it did was tire us out at the end.

    • Good comment. The press wasn’t as effective because even though this was a pressing team last year and to start this year, Donovan found more success with this team not using it. So they were rusty. Tough to pick that up again in a day.

      I think Donovan saw what happened when Parsons had the ball at the end of regulation vs. BYU, saw what Boynton and Walker did in OT with the huge threes, and thought he was still hot.

      • ncgator says:

        Adam, not trying to pick a fight but I referenced you in my comments because you are defending Donovan and assuming he told Walker to take it inside. I saw no attempt on Walkers part to drive the lane in regulation or in OT. He ran to the 3-point line and fired. Secondly, why go to the press if you know they’re going to be rusty. Thirdly, why abandon going inside which was our biggest advantage and leave it completely up to the guards. Fourth, why protect Macklin to the point where he’s not even a factor. That whole second half strategy made no sense to me, and that’s completely on Donovan.

        • I hear you. I responded waking up in bed this morning. Didn’t realize you were responding to my comment; thought you were responding to something I wrote in the story. Check out the next post-game post and you’ll understand why I have that opinion in regard to Walker’s shot in regulation. Walker’s final shot in OT…they needed a 3…were down 74-71.

          Only other thing I have to say to you is…just because it didn’t make sense to you doesn’t mean it’s wrong. Not saying you are wrong. Not saying Donovan was right. I do, however, give the benefit of the doubt to someone with his experience and success.

          • ncgator says:

            Just saying with his experience questioning the coaching decisions shouldn’t even be an issue. Those questions are running rampant throughout this whole article.

  12. Daniel M. says:

    I don’t believe for a second that plays to the inside were drawn up at the end. Launching a three at the end of regulation was utterly baffling to me. Would rather have seen Macklin tossing up bricks at the charity stripe. He would only have had to make one. The damn game was tied. You can point to dreadful shooting all game long as a reason they lost but the play calling at the end was still atrocious. That’s on the coach IMHO.

    • ncgator says:

      Daniel M; Couldn’t agree more. Ohio State, Carolina, Kansas…..all lost because they got beat by a better team that day, not because of bad coaching. Butler was not a better team, but Stevens stayed to his game plan while Donovan changed everyhing that was working. I can’t remember a game this whole tournament when I asked myself more times “what the hell is Donovan doing”. I don’t mind getting beat by a better team, I just hate gatting beat because of a bad game plan. That’s on Donovan

  13. Jesse C says:

    The game plan of going inside to Macklin mostly was working quite effectively and even got us a couple big leads. The backcourt wasn’t doing a whole lot of scoring and Parsons was short-arming everything. We made only one 3 in regulation and one in OT. So naturally I’m confused about the shot selection at the end of regulation and when we were down by 1 in OT late. We should have kept with what was working all game and at least we would have gotten to the line with a chance to tie or win. Macklin was not fouled out, I just don’t understand why we didn’t go with the high-percentage shots. How foolish of us. I’m reallty proud of our team for what they have accomplished this season but its disappointing when you know they should’ve gotten further.

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