Gators in disbelief about classic game with Wisconsin

NEW YORK – Things we learned in overtime: Canyon Barry is LeBron James, and no Gators player knew Chris Chiozza’s shot was going in.

Special to Fightin' Gators by Matthew Stein

Not until the twine snapped above the rim and the horn blared to a stunned Madison Square Garden crowd, anyway.

Barry: “No chance! I was covering my eyes and just praying. So glad it went in though.”

Kevarrius Hayes: “It’s incredible to watch it in the air, time stands still for a few seconds. You don’t even know whether it’s gonna go in or not, you just know that’s everything you worked for, right there, in that one shot.”

Kasey Hill: “It looked good! Honestly it looked good, and it went right in. It was a great shot.”

OK fine, so there was one …

To see Chiozza’s face, the disbelief and blank expression, as he first stepped foot in the locker room and scrolled through the seemingly endless notifications on his phone is indescribable.

Dude is 21 years old, playing in the biggest games of his collegiate career. Nerves? Please. Cheese was whipping swing passes and dribbling behind his back throughout. So when he got the inbounds pass with 4.0 ticks on the clock, he simply raced past Wisconsin’s Nigel Hayes, took a leaner from just beyond the black three-point stripe and watched it fly.

“I still can’t believe it went in,” Chiozza said.

Swish.

Mob scene.

“I didn’t even know how to celebrate, I just stood there and my team came and tackled me.” Chiozza said. “In that moment I was just stuck.”

It wasn’t just Chiozza, though. True, he scored the Gators’ last five points – the previous two a game-tying layup after a nifty dribble move that got him a free path to the cup – but Florida may not have been in that position without the rest of its bench.

Barry had seven, four in overtime on a layup and two free throws, but that block, though …

“I’ve seen his athleticism; I just didn’t know he was capable of chasing down blocks like that,” Hayes said. “[Barry] said he channeled his inner LeBron.”

“CB made a great play,” said Hill, the lone member of the team who was on the Gators roster when they last reached the Elite Eight. “I’m happy that he ran back and didn’t foul – coach was yelling foul but he actually ran back and got a block.”

We know athleticism runs in the Barry family. There’s that whole “my brother won an NBA Slam Dunk Contest” thing. It wasn’t the sprint or the leap that made it so special, it was the timing.

“I’ve blocked shots before, but nothing this important,” Barry said. “Happy it came at the right time.”

And by right time, he means it swung the entire overtime period. 34 heart-pounding seconds later, the Gators had their seventh Elite Eight appearance in the past 12 years.

Says Hayes: “Hype it up.”

Quotes on the shot

Kevarrius Hayes:

“It’s incredible to watch it in the air, time stands still for a few seconds. You don’t even know whether it’s gonna go in or not, you just know that’s everything you worked for, right there, in that one shot.”

“I was holding my breath, not thinking anything. I was just watching, hoping for the best.”

Chris Chiozza:

“I still can’t believe it went in.”

“I didn’t even know how to celebrate, I just stood there and my team came and tackled me. ... In that moment I was just stuck.”

Kasey Hill:

“It looked good! Honestly it looked good, and it went right in. It was a great shot.”

Barry:

“No chance! I was covering my eyes and just praying. So glad it went in though.”

 

Quotes on the block

Kevarrius Hayes:

“I’ve seen his athleticism, I just didn’t know he was capable of chasing down blocks like that. He said he channeled his inner LeBron.”

“He didn’t give up. That’s everything he had, he went out there and tried to make a play, and he did. We’re very fortunate to have players like that, who care, warriors, people who want to fight until the end.”

“Hope. It gives us hope that there’s still a chance to win.”

Kasey Hill:

“I’ve never seen Canyon get a chasedown block, but he never gave up. That was a great block.”

“CB made a great play, I’m happy that he ran back and didn’t foul – coach was yelling foul but he actually ran back and got a block.”

Canyon Barry:

“I’ve blocked shots before, but nothing this important. Happy it came at the right time.”

 

Quotes on Elite 8

Give me one sentence to sum it up.

Hayes:

“Hype it up.”

 


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