Chris Chiozza hits buzzer-beater to send Florida to the Elite Eight

I knew he was behind the line, I knew he got it off on time.

Asked if it made up for Bryce Drew's shot for Valparaiso against White's Ole Miss team in 1998, the Florida coach responded with a grin.

Florida's Chris Chiozza hit an incredible running 3-pointer at the buzzer and the Gators stunned Wisconsin 84-83 in overtime Friday night in an NCAA East Regional semifinal in Madison Square Garden, sending the Gators into the Elite Eight. "He made an unbelievable play".

Florida faces SC for a trip to Phoenix next weekend to represent the East Region in the Final Four.

Nigel Hayes hit two free throws to provide eighth-seeded Wisconsin (27-10) with an 83-81 lead with four seconds to play. With no timeouts left, the Gators inbounded to Chiozza and the point guard stopped right the arc and dropped in the victor for Florida (27-8).

"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", Chiozza explained.

"I make one or two more of those free throws in overtime and nothing matters now", Hayes said.

In the end, players like Showalter, an unsung hero in the last two seasons, believe in the future of the program.

"I need to do a better job of making him change directions", Hayes said.

But in the end, it was Florida that was storming the court, celebrating.

Florida is in the Elite Eight for the first time since 2014, and for the first time under White - the former MS guard who was on the losing end of one of the most famous game-winning shots in NCAA history.

Chris Chiozza hadn't scored a bucket in almost 15 minutes, happily taking a backseat and distributor role while KeVaughn Allen did his thing. "With an emphasis on the hell". "What a wonderful college basketball game to be a part of".

KeVaughn Allen hit a 3 and was fouled shooting 3s twice late in the first half. The Badgers scored eight unanswered points in the final 1:49 of regulation to tie it.

Wisconsin (27-10), with four seniors in the starting lineup, almost pulled off the same miracle comeback that it did last week in overcoming a seven-point deficit to defending national champion Villanova in the final five minutes.

In the final game of the Sweet 16, the 2017 NCAA tournament finally had a buzzer-beater.

Chiozza then earned a spot in the "One Shining Moment" montage with a shot that will go down in Gators' history.

NEW YORK - Apparently South Carolina is getting the hang of winning NCAA Tournament games.

The 2013 recruiting class of Hayes, Bronson Koenig and Vitto Brown went 8-1 in overtime games during their career, but the one defeat will be the one that sticks with them forever.

The seniors "have helped push us forward, this program forward, and it's in good hands and a good position as they exit", Wisconsin coach Greg Gard said early Saturday morning after the loss in NY. "They have fought back at adverse times and tonight was a great testament to their Will and never give up attitude".

Florida moves on to the Elite 8 where they will face fellow SEC foe SC. SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey was at the Garden, enjoying the S-E-C! chants. Now Florida and Carolina are on three-game tournament rolls, knocking down higher-ranked opponents in the process.

The ball slipped through the net and Florida slipped into an All-SEC regional final against SC on Sunday. "It's going to be tough to see my friends go on, but I'm excited to see where they're headed next", sophomore Ethan Happ said.

But the Gators hung around, and Chiozza - who finished with just eight points - scored the final five points for Florida to seal the Sweet 16 victory.

Those two statistics were key, in a one-point loss. The Gators will likely be favored on Sunday to advance to the program's first Final Four since its last trip to the tournament three years ago.

Third-seeded UCLA (31-5) couldn't come close to matching that in the sequel despite shooting 52.7 percent from the field. The lead grew to 11 points with just more than eight minutes remaining in the period, as Hayes poured in all nine of his first-half points before the clock dipped below 9:00.

Fans lustily booed Kentucky coach John Calipari in his first game in Memphis since leaving in April 2009 for the Wildcats.

- Sunday will mark the fifth time that a No. 4 seed and a No. 7 seed match up in a regional final.

Joel Berry added 26 points and reserve forward Luke Maye turned in the best game of his career with 16 points and 12 rebounds, his first double-double. Who needs a reminder about "The Block" by Canyon Barry on Khalil Iverson with only 34 seconds remaining in overtime?

  • Joanne Flowers