Butler rallies to beat Florida, reach Final Four

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Macklin, who’d been limited by foul trouble in the second half — he committed his fourth with 9:02 left — returned to hit a free throw and a layup on a strong move inside to make it 60-57. Mack’s free throws cut it to one point and Howard had a chance to give Butler the lead after drawing a foul with 30.7 seconds left.

He missed his second free throw, then Florida’s Irving Walker missed a long pull-up jumper — his eighth straight miss to that point — forcing overtime.

Butler initially took a 67-64 lead in the overtime on Ronald Nored’s free throws, but Florida came back with a couple of clutch 3s. Boynton’s tied it 67, then Walker finally hit his first field goal from 3 to put the Gators up 70-69.

That’s when Mack responded with his big 3 that propelled Butler to its latest upset.

Butler had a couple of good omens early on. Mack hit his first 3 off the backboard, Chandler Parsons uncharacteristically missed a layup and Butler followed that by hustling for a long offensive rebound on the other end to set up Mack’s second 3. After another jumper by Mack, Butler had an early 8-4 lead and the solid start they were looking for.

Soon after, though, the 6-foot-10 Macklin went to the one shot in his repertoire that Butler was bound to have trouble defending — the jump hook.

Macklin made a six of them in the first half and added a strong, spinning baseline drive for a layup as he made seven of his first eight shots. One of his jump hooks over Howard gave Florida a 25-15 lead with about 7 minutes left in the first half.

Butler needed outside shots to start falling to stay in the game, and senior backup Zach Hahn was the answer. His first 3 ignited a 7-0 run and his second, an open look set up by Howard, pulled Butler to 27-25.

Florida maintained a small lead the remainder of the half, but Marshall’s putback of a missed 3 in the final seconds got the Bulldogs to 33-32 at halftime.

 

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