November 25, 2017 / 8:53 AM / in 7 months

No. 7 Florida tops No. 17 Gonzaga in two OTs

No. 7 Florida tops No. 17 Gonzaga in two OTs

PORTLAND, Ore. — Nearly a year ago to the day, Gonzaga and Florida met in the semifinals of the AdvoCare Invitational.

Fast forward to the present and it’s clear that this Gators team is not the same as last year’s squad. Led by an onslaught of 3-pointers in the second half, No. 7 Florida came from behind to defeat No. 17 Gonzaga 111-105 in two overtimes at the Moda Center in the semifinals the Phil Knight 80 Invitational on Friday night.

“I don’t know where to start, crazy game — wow, what an unbelievable college basketball game,” Florida coach Mike White said. “To just beat Gonzaga is a huge deal for us.”

“Mike (White) made some really good adjustments — I thought he made a great adjustment against our zone coming out in the second half,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said.

Jalen Hudson was sensational for Florida (5-0), scoring 31 of his 35 points in the second half and overtime, including an 8-of-12 showing from deep. KeVaughn Allen finished with 23 points and Chris Chiozza was solid all-around with 26 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds.

“I’m just excited that we came out with the win,” Hudson said. “We played really tough, we never quit. They (Gonzaga) made a lot of big plays — we just never quit and never folded.”

Johnathon Williams did everything he could to get Gonzaga (4-1) the win, finishing with 39 points and 12 rebounds. He was 16 of 22 from the field.

Killian Tillie added 17 points for the Bulldogs and Corey Kispert chipped in 15. Josh Perkins, the hero of last year’s victory, came alive in the second half to finish with 17 points, seven rebounds and seven assists.

Both Tillie and Perkins fouled out and didn’t play in the second overtime.

“Losing Tillie’s huge. Tillie is someone that just makes life easier for him (Williams), the guards, all of us,” Few said. “Obviously, we played 15-16 minutes without him, played eight or 10 without Perkins.”

After drama ensued at the end of regulation and overtime, the second overtime saw Florida jump out big and hang on. A 9-2 run midway through the second overtime sent the largely pro-Gonzaga crowd streaming for the exits.

“We had several opportunities to fold and our guys were extremely resilient and tough,” White said. “I thought we made some big strides today in both those departments as well as how we defended and rebounded a team that’s really good and really talented.”

Chiozza appeared to give Florida the win in the first overtime when his 3-point play put the Gators up by two with eight seconds left, but Silas Melson’s layup tied the score, sending it to a second overtime.

Trailing by seven at halftime, the Gators came out firing to begin the second half.

After being shut down in the first half from deep, Florida hit three 3-pointers in the first four minutes of the half to grab the lead at 42-41. The Gators were able to stretch that lead to 59-53 before Gonzaga responded with a 10-0 run to regain the momentum with 7:01 to play.

The game went back and forth before Florida took the lead at 76-75 on two free throws by Chiozza with 1:06 remaining.

Perkins gave the Bulldogs a two-point lead when he connected on a three-point play, but Allen tied the score with 22.4 seconds left on a reverse layup, sending the game to overtime.

Because Florida lit up Stanford the previous night for 108 points — knocking down 15 3-pointers in the win — Few made sure the Bulldogs knew they weren’t going to let the Gators win the same way.

The Gators still made 17 of 36 (47.2 percent) from beyond the arc — above their season average of 46.8 percent.

Gonzaga started the game on fire.

Not known for their perimeter shooting as much as the Gators, the Bulldogs knocked down two early ones from deep to ignite a 13-4 run to start the game.

But Florida found its footing, and instead of launching its own 3-pointers attacked the rim. The Gators responded with a 13-0 run to take their first lead of the game with 11:51 to go in the half.

Williams then came alive for Gonzaga midway through the first half. With the Bulldogs trailing 23-19, Williams went on his own 8-0 run, as part of a larger 17-6 run, to end the half up 36-29.

Florida returns Sunday to face No. 1 Duke in the championship game of the Motion bracket. Gonzaga will face Texas.

NOTES: Florida’s leading scorer, Egor Koulechov, was held to four points, well below his season average of 21.5 ppg. ... Florida came in averaging 11 made 3-pointers per game. ... Gonzaga’s Josh Perkins scored 18 points in last year’s win over Florida. ... It was the first time Florida had trailed at the half this year.

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