Why don't they play more often?
Justin Hamilton made a free throw with 6 seconds left in the second overtime and freshman Matt Walsh scored a career-high 33 points as No. 13 Florida outlasted Miami 94-93 in the Orange Bowl Classic on Saturday. The 33 points by Walsh were the most by a Gator freshman since Vernon Delancey set the UF freshman mark with 38 points against Alabama on January 24, 1981.
The rivalry has had few pit stops lately. The game was the first in 12 years, and only two games are scheduled. The teams will play in Gainesville in 2004 and in Miami two years later.
Those games will be hard-pressed to be as exciting as the one played Saturday.
"We kept hearing that it wasn't going to be much of a game," Florida coach Billy Donovan said. "The Miami players probably kept hearing that they had no chance of beating us. I think they wanted to prove that wrong."
Miami (4-4) played far better than the team that was embarrassed in losing to in-state rivals Florida Atlantic and Florida State in recent weeks.
"Obviously, that was an excellent basketball game," Miami coach Perry Clark said. "A game like this brings out your best. An environment like this brings out your best."
The game was tied nine times in the overtimes before Hamilton gave the Gators their final lead.
Miami, without a timeout, worked the ball quickly upcourt but could do no better than an off-balance 25-footer by Surratt that bounced off the backboard.
Florida (8-2) took a 93-91 lead in the second overtime on David Lee's baseline drive with 1:02 left. Jones scored on a short jumper inside the lane to tie it with 35 seconds to go.
The Gators worked for the final possession, and Hamilton was fouled.
Walsh also had 11 rebounds and five assists for the Gators.
Walsh, a 67 percent free-throw shooter, was perfect from the line, connecting on 14 foul shots. He was a combined 6-for-6 in the two overtime periods.
"Before this year, I was 91 percent in high school," Walsh said. "I've always had confidence in my shooting, and tonight I was able to step up and make the big shots. I'm benefiting from teams focusing on our big guys, and I'm taking advantage of what teams are giving me."
Matt Bonner had 16 points and 12 rebounds, and Hamilton added 15 points for Florida, which has won its last 17 games against in-state opponents.
The Gators blew a 17-point second-half lead. Miami also clawed back in the first overtime, as Jones scored on a layup with 3 seconds left to make it 83-83.
Florida found just enough offense at the end to pull out the win.
"I felt if Rice and Jones both had great games, then it would be a tremendous game," Donovan said. "Rice is such a tough player to guard. I give Miami credit. They played with a lot of heart, character and energy."
Rice tied the game at 72-all by hitting a 3-pointer with 26 seconds left in regulation.
Florida had a chance for the win, but Anthony Roberson missed on a 3-pointer with the clock winding down and the Gators couldn't come up with the rebound in the final seconds.
The Gators ended the first half on a 16-0 run to take a 43-29 lead.
Trailing 29-27, the Gators took command behind Lee, who scored eight points during the run, with three of his four field goals coming on dunks.
Miami trailed by 17 points early in the second half, but went on an 11-0 run to cut the gap to 46-40. A 3-pointer by Rice brought Miami within 48-43, but Florida answered with 3-pointers by Walsh and Hamilton to open a 54-43 lead.