Rushed Reactions: #4 Florida 84, #8 Wisconsin 83 (OT)

Posted by Justin Kundrat on March 25th, 2017

RTC will be providing coverage of the NCAA Tournament from start to finish. Justin Kundrat (@justinkundrat) is in New York City this weekend.

The Agony and the Ecstasy of the NCAA Tournament (USA Today Images)

Three Key Takeaways.

  1. In a battle first of defenses and then of hero ball, Florida was just a little bit better. The three-headed trio of KeVaughn AllenKasey Hill and Chris Chiozza flustered Wisconsin’s ball-handlers all night long, picking them up full court and playing with a hand in their jerseys on every screen. It forced the Badgers into an uncharacteristic funk, one in which they committed 16 turnovers and struggled to work their patented inside-out offense to its full effect. Wisconsin is usually a team that dictates its own pace on the offensive end, so being pushed into a higher tempo affair undoubtedly worked to Florida’s advantage. Nonetheless, Wisconsin down the stretch channeled its penchant for late game heroics yet again, overcoming a 10-point deficit that culminated with an acrobatic runner to tie the game… only to be topped with the answer of all answers in overtime. Sometimes, luck bests itself.
  2. Florida’s pick-and-roll offense dismantled Wisconsin’s defense. Simply put, Bronson Koenig and Zak Showalter were not quick enough to stick with Florida’s guards off the screens, and Florida’s roll men are skilled at drawing fouls. Wisconsin forwards Ethan Happ and Vitto Brown found themselves glued to the bench down the stretch with foul trouble, further exposing the Badgers inside. The Gators are highly efficient around the rim, converting on 65.3 percent of their shots, so it should come as no surprise that they were able to take advantage of the undermanned front line.
  3. He might be third on the team in scoring, but Wisconsin’s offense runs on Nigel Hayes. Florida’s first half run coincided with Hayes spending time on the bench in foul trouble. His eventual return quickly righted the ship and reignited the Badgers’ offense. The 6’8″ senior plays a “bully ball” type of offense in which he utilizes his physicality and speed to torture both big and small defenders. He posed an inherent mismatch for the Gators’ front line and capitalized on every opportunity, particularly in overtime, totaling 22 points on 7-of-11 shooting. But to Wisconsin’s demise, his overtime efforts were ultimately undermined by missed free throws.

Star of the GameKeVaughn Allen, Florida. After a rugged start to the NCAA Tournament, the Gators’ leading scorer got back on track tonight. He picked apart the Badgers with a combination of steals, three-pointers and drives into the paint before finishing with 35 points on 11-of-24 shooting.

Quotable, in chronological sequence as it unfolded…

  • Greg Gard on Showalter’s game-tying shot: “We were going with something else and they took it away and he was able to get loose…”
  • Mike White: “Perhaps we need to start practicing fouling when we’re up three in regulation…”
In Overtime…
  • Chris Chiozza: “Zak Showalter hit a tough shot at the end of regulation to send it into overtime. Any time that happens, it takes a little, it takes the life out of you a little bit.”
  • Ethan Happ: “With our last game being down seven to Villanova with four or five minutes to go, we came back and won that one, so we were definitely confident in the same regard.”
  • White: “We got down five, they had all the momentum in the world. We couldn’t hold on. Made a huge shot.”
  • Chiozza: “I just knew I had four seconds and I was trying to get down the court as fast as I could and if somebody was open I was going to pass it. But I was really trying to get to the rim, but they did a good job of bumping me and slowing me down and that was the only shot I had, so I had to take that one.”
  • Nigel Hayes: “I needed to do a better job of making him change directions, he’s extremely quick with the ball and he was able to put it in one hand and kind of outrun me.”
  • White: “With four seconds, Chris knows he has anywhere between four to six dribbles, and boy he utilized them.”
  • White: “What a wonderful college basketball game to be a part of…”

Sights & Sounds. Just like the first game, red shirts were clustered throughout the Garden, but this time donned by Wisconsin fans. It certainly wasn’t a home court advantage, but the noise levels benefited the Badgers more than their counterparts.

What’s Next? Florida will bring its dynamic brand of basketball (and taste for heroics) back to MSG on Sunday to face off against South Carolina. On the other hand, the books have officially closed on the tremendous careers of Wisconsin’s seniors.

Justin Kundrat (112 Posts)

Villanova grad, patiently waiting another 10 years for season tickets. Follow Justin on twitter @JustinKundrat or email him at justin.kundrat@gmail.com


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