2017 East Regional: Cheese Sinks The Shot

 

NEW YORK, NY – In the night cap of the Sweet 16 at Madison Square Garden the Wisconsin Badgers and Florida Gators faced off for a bid in the Elite 8 against bracket-busting South Carolina.

The Badgers flexed their muscles early leading by 6 with 15:30 left in the first half, 10-4. The Gators went cold early, missing four straight shots over 2:33 of game action. While that happened the Badgers were on their own 8-0 run, before the Gators got a bucket to fall to end the drought.

Senior Nigel Hayes answered back with a corner three to push the score to 14-6, as the Badgers offense was fluid early. A 13-2 run was capped by a thunderous dunk by Khalil Iverson, putting the Badgers up 16-6 with 13:26 left in the first half.

Stout defense and patient offense was the key early for the Badgers, as they were getting any shot they wanted. Nigel Hayes had it working early, picking his spots on the floor to score and doing it efficiently. With 8:44 left in the first half he had his Badgers up 22-13, scoring 9 points.

The combination of Hayes and Ethan Happ was too much early, as they did whatever they wanted in the paint. With 3:53 left in the first, the Badgers were nursing a 27-20 lead, but turned the ball over three times in 1:49.

The Gators capitalized on these miscues to cut their deficit. The Gators had 12 points in the paint with 3:53 left, but shot just 38 percent. The Badgers however, went on a cold spurt. They were scoreless the last 4:24, as the Gators made a run capped by Kevaughn Allen. He was fouled late in the shot clock from distance. He sunk all three to give the Gators a one point advantage in the waining moments of the first half.

A spinning lay up to stop the bleeding for the Badgers was thought to give momentum going into the half, however Kevaughn Allen was fouled again on a three with one second left. He sunk all three to give the Gators a 34-32 lead at the half.

With all things considered, the Gators were up with Kasey Hill being scoreless through the first half. Allen led the Gators with 15 first half points, as Vitto Brown paced the Badgers with 10. Bronson Koenig was just 1-3 from the field in the first half.

The Gators came out of the half hot, taking the ball to the rim and running fluid offense. Kevaughn Allen kept his hot streak going, getting a steal and drawing a foul. With 16:04 left in the contest, the Gators  were up 45-39.

Although Kasey Hill was quiet early, he hit a pull up jump shot to put the Gators lead at 10. Nigel Hayes answered with a jump shot of his own to cut the deficit back down to 8.

Bronson Koenig went on a personal run, hitting a pull up jump shot then knocking in a three to bring the Badgers within five, 52-48 with 11:57 left. Nigel Hayes muscled his way to the rim to bring the Badgers within 2, with 10:39 left. The Gators went on a scoring drought that lasted almost three minutes.

Hayes continued his stellar play for the Badgers, as he converted a lay up plus the foul, to put the Badgers up 53-52 with 10:20 left in the game. Kevaughn Allen knocked in a cold blooded three to regain the lead for the Gators, 55-53 with 9:34 left.

After a hectic play, Florida came up with yet another turnover, as Canyon Barry converted a three point play to extend the lead to five. Ethan Happ barreled into a defender, causing a charge as the momentum began to swing in favor of the Gators.

Chris Chiozza converted an and one opportunity as the lead ballooned to eight for the Gators, 61-55 with 8:31 left in regulation. With 7:10 left in the game, the Gators were up 64-56, as Wisconsin was held without a field goal for the last 3:11 of the contest.

The Badgers scored on a goal tend with 4:12 left in the game to bring the deficit back down to 12 points. With just 3:17 left in the game, the Gators were in the midst of a funk. They did not score in the last 2:07 of the game, as they were up 68-60.

The Gators capitalized on turnovers throughout the whole game, boasting a 20 to 11 advantage in points off turnovers with 3:17 left. Zak Showalter sunk two free throws to cut the deficit to six, before the Gators took their own trip to the line.

Kevarrius Hayes split free throws, pushing the Gator lead to seven with 2:36 left and a birth in the Elite 8 at stake. Bronson Koenig hit a huge three in front of his bench to bring the deficit to five with 1:29 left.

A Ethan Happ layup off a deep Koenig miss brought the Badgers to within three with just 37.1 left in the contest. After a terrible possession by the Gators, they turned it over and allowed the Badgers a chance to tie the game with 6.5 left, Koenig came up a bit gimpy before calling a time out.

An improbable shot was made by Zak Showalter, as he shot a off balance, one footed three to tie the game and force overtime. As overtime began Allen split a pair of free throws, and Nigel Hayes sunk both to give the Badgers a one point lead with 3:55 left in overtime.

Nigel Hayes was fouled again, however split the free throws to push the score to 75-73 in favor of the Badgers. A huge turnover led to yet another foul on Hayes, who stepped to the line again where he missed both. The Gators could not corral the rebound, giving the Badgers an extended possession.

The Gators had three cracks at open three point shots, however they missed them all. Nigel Hayes drew yet another foul and split the free throws. Canyon Barry responded with a quick layup to make the score 78-75.

A foul sent Showalter back to the line, where he made both to give the Badgers a five point cushion with 1:00 left in overtime. Canyon Barry sunk two grandma styled free throws to make the score 81-79.

The Badgers had a free run out on the inbounds, but couldn’t convert as the shot was blocked. The Gators used that momentum and scored a easy lay up by Chiozza to tie the game up at 81 with 24 seconds left to play.

Nigel Hayes drove strong to the rim and drew a foul with 4 seconds left to play. He calmly walked to the line and sunk both to give the Badgers a two point lead with 4.0 left on the clock.

Chiozza dribbled the length of the floor and shot a stumbling three that hit nothing but net, as the Gators survive and advance to the Elite 8. The Gators were paced by Allen, who netted 35 huge points as the Gators won 84-83.

A fitting end to the game, as Chris “Cheese” Chiozza sunk the three to knock out Wisconsin. While Kevaughn Allen had a career night, notching a Gator program record 35 points, Chiozza and Barry stole the show.

The huge block by Barry and the ensuing shot will be forever engrained in the minds of the Gator faithful. When asked about the game winning shot Chiozza stated, “God just pleased me with incredible speed, so I knew that i could use that and get to the other end of the court and have time left to either get somebody else a shot or take the shot myself.”

The Gators are set to take on the cinderella Gamecocks of South Carolina for a birth in the Final Four Sunday, at 2:20pm Eastern.

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