Gators Collar Bulldogs to Advance to Elite-8
Florida started slowly - again - and staved off another challenge with a late surge.Â Al Horford had 16 points, seven rebounds and a key block in the final minute to help the top-seeded Gators hold off undersized Butler 65-57 Friday night.
The Gators (32-5), trying to become the first team since Duke in 1992 to win consecutive national titles, advanced to the Midwest Regional on Sunday against the Oregon.
The defending national champions trailed by as many as nine points and never found their comfort zone against the scrappy Bulldogs.Â But they took control in the final two minutes - thanks mostly to Horford. Taurean Green had 17 points, and Joakim Noah finished with 13 points and nine rebounds. Noah was 9-of-11 from the free throw line.
Butler fell to 0-2 against the Gators.
The teams last met in the first round of the 2000 tournament, and they provided a frantic finish and a game-winning shot at the buzzer by Florida's Mike Miller.Â Â The game was a turning point for both programs.
It started a run of tournament appearances for Butler, which used to be best known for having the gym used in ``Hoosiers.'' The Bulldogs have since established themselves as one of those mid-major teams that wreak havoc for the big boys this time of year.
Florida won its next four games and advanced to the championship game for the first time in school history, setting the foundation for Donovan's program.
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