Florida guard KeVaughn Allen (5) puts up a shot against Wisconsin forward Ethan Happ (22) in the first half of an East Regional semifinal game of the NCAA men's college basketball tournament, Friday, March 24, 2017, in New York.
UF Notebook: Allen regains scoring touch in Gators' win
NEW YORK — Florida sophomore guard KeVaughn Allen set a career-high and UF NCAA Tournament record with 35 points in the 84-83 OT win over Wisconsin on late Friday night.
Allen did it in front of a special spectator, his mom, Ahna Curry, who has been to a handful of Gator games this season.
“She raised me the right way, so I give her all the credit for the night,” Allen said Saturday. “Just the way that she raised me and the young man I grew up to be.”
Florida football coach Jim McElwain had predicted earlier in the week that Allen would have a breakout game against the Badgers. After going 3 of 21 in his first two NCAA Tournament games, Allen went 11 of 24 from the field, 4 of 12 from 3-point range and 9 of 10 from the free-throw line.
In two games at Madison Square Garden, Allen is averaging 28 points. But Allen isn't taking for granted that he has his mojo back, knowing that the Gators will be going up against a tough South Carolina defense.
“I have a lot of confidence right now, but playing now it's going to be very tough,” Allen said. “I think we've just got to match their intensity, be physical.”
The Big Cheese?
Just call him Mr. Big Shot.
The day after Florida junior point guard Chris Chiozza's 3-pointer at the buzzer that lifted Florida to the overtime win against Wisconsin was filled with more questions. Most centered on how Chiozza was able to convert the dramatic shot that advanced UF to its ninth Elite Eight appearance in school history on Sunday against South Carolina.
Chiozza said he received about 200 texts deep into Friday night.
“I've heard from everybody that probably I've ever met,” Chiozza said. “It was a long night, but I tried not to talk to too many people, just my family and people that I'm pretty close with.”
Chiozza's picture as he hoisted the game-winning shot adorned the back cover sports pages of both New York City tabloids. The Daily News went with the headline “Holy Shot”, while the New York Post opted to use the more simple “Miracle.”
The shot will go down forever in NCAA Tournament lore, given the stakes of the game. Chiozza said he's seen the video of the shot a number of times.
“Every time I look somewhere somebody's sending it to me or I see it on Instagram or something, so I've seen it quite a bit,” Chiozza said. “I enjoy it every time I watch it.”
Bleeding the clock
Florida was ahead 68-56 on Wisconsin with 5:23 remaining last night when Florida coach Mike White opted to bleed the shot clock to try to close out the game. The Badgers responded with a 16-4 run, tying the score at 72 at the end of regulation on a 3-pointer by Zak Showalter with 2 seconds remaining.
Would White adopt a similar strategy if the Gators are up late today against South Carolina?
“We've been in that position, 10 times this year, we've gone deep clock a few of those and we've not gone deep clock in a few of those,” White said. “I don't know what's better for us. I think it's a crap shoot. I really do.
“There's times we've stayed aggressive and all of a sudden we find ourselves up three in a minute, in which we had done vice-versa. And last night I wish we had done vice-versa, I mean, too tentative.”
During the stretch, Florida missed a pair of free throws, senior point guard Kasey Hill failed to get a shot up while trying to flop for a foul and center Kevarrius Hayes had a turnover with 16 seconds left when he was unable to handle a post feed from Chiozza. But White said he feels protecting leads also comes down to getting stops on defense.
“If you go late clock and you don't foul Nigel Hayes and go get out in transition offense and now all of a sudden it was the right decision,” White said. “It's complicated because some of those offensive possessions are related to our defensive efficiency as well.”
SEC still rolling
With Florida, South Carolina and Kentucky all winning Friday night, the SEC has three teams in the Elite Eight. Due to the Gators and Gamecocks playing on Sunday, the SEC is guaranteed to at least have one team in the Final Four for the first time since Kentucky made it in 2015.
“It's a football conference, and it's a basketball conference, and it's a gymnastics conference and it's a softball conference,” White said. “No one is more aware of that than the Florida Gators. There's excellence, throughout the conference in every sport, men's and women's.”
With UF's 84-83 overtime win over Wisconsin last night, White improved to 9-11 in his UF tenure in games decided by 5 points or less. The Gators improved to 2-1 in overtime games this season and 2-2 in OT in two seasons under White. … Florida now is 45-17 all-time in NCAA Tournament games and 3-0 in NCAA Tournament games under White. ... Florida has made seven Elite Eight trips since 2006, tied with North Carolina (7) for the most in the past 11 years. Kentucky and Kansas have been to the Elite Eight six times in that span.
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