Not the best of performances against a team that was essentially Jimmer Fredette & Friends, but Florida's 83-74 overtime win against BYU puts it in the Elite 8 and ONE win away from the Final Four. I don't care how strongly tinted your orange-and-blue shades are or how seriously you bought into this team's preseason hype -- looking at things at this point is damned impressive.
Yes, the Gators' road to Houston was paved with gold, as they snatched a tenuous 2-seed, had top dogs Pitt lose to Butler and got to face BYU without sexytime suspended forward Brandon Davies (I made this joke on Twitter but think it needs repeating: Is Davies the first athlete in history you can taunt by saying, "Hey, why don't you go have sex with your girlfriend again?") BUT, this is March Madness, and getting to the Elite 8 is not easy, much less a Final Four. The Gators are poised to do that now after surviving Fredette's 32 points and winning in an extra period that turned out to be pretty easy.
Kenny Boynton and Scottie Wilbekin did a pretty good job on Fredette despite that point total. He didn't score until late in the first half and didn't hit a three until the second, and while he got his points, they weren't easy, and that was kind of the plan anyway. No other Cougar scored in double figures (UF had four), depriving them of the support they got via Michael Loyd's 26 bench points in last year's win against Florida.
Two things stood out to me. First: Erving Walker's rebound near the end of regulation. Boynton missed a three with 25 seconds left, meaning Fredette could have had the ball for a final shot (I can see Billy Donovan screaming "NOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!" in slow motion). Instead, Walker, who said he was supposed to be getting back down the other end for defense after the shot, took off toward the corner and corralled it. Chandler Parsons couldn't connect on his game-winner attempt, but the possession ran out the clock and kept Jimmer from doing something terrifying (like that three he nailed in the second half where he pulled up from Drew Brees' house and gave his Mormon fans the jolt of energy they've learned to survive on in lieu of caffeine).
The other thing was Alex Tyus. Where the hell did that come from? Nineteen points and 17 rebounds, a crazy shot block that came halfway up the backboard, and no huge mistakes in crunchtime. Honestly, that's the kind of game he should be having more often considering the fact that he's usually the best athlete on the floor, but Donovan will probably just take it when he can get it. If Tyus flips a switch and keeps that up while the other starters are playing well, the Gators suddenly get a lot more dangerous.
At the end of the day, Florida barely snuck by a smaller, less-talented squad tonight. The Gators should have been pounding the ball inside and using their size early rather than jacking up threes from all over the floor, but whatever. They figured things out late and got the win, and that's more than can be said for plenty of good teams who have already lost in this tournament.
Most importantly, they live to play another game, and they're in a spot plenty of great teams would kill to be in.