The impossible had just happened. Chandler Parsons grabbed a missed free-throw, turned around and launched a three-quarter court shot at the buzzer. It hit nothing but the bottom of the net. Some Wolfpack players smirked at the absurdity of what just happened, others just stared. Sidney Lowe slumped over the scorer's table in disbelief.
The shot capped an improbable comeback in overtime against the Pack, as the Gators rallied from a 5-point deficit with 22 seconds remaining to steal away a 62-61 win on Sunday afternoon at the RBC Center.
"This one really hurts," Lowe said. "They all hurt but this one... yeah, this one really hurts."
The Pack's (10-4) inability to convert from the free-throw line kept the Gators (11-3) close enough to have their prayers answered at the end. The Pack went 5-for-9 in the last 40 seconds and Farnold Degand missed the final one that would have given the Pack a three-point lead with 2.6 seconds to play. But when his shot clanked right into the hands of Parsons, the Gator had just enough time to turn around and launch up a shot.
"Probably about a one out of 100 chance of that happening," Tracy Smith said. "But that one time..."
Smith led the Pack with 21 points and nine rebounds, while Javi Gonzalez and Scott Wood also scored in double-figures in the game. Gonzalez finished with 13 points and six rebounds but committed six turnovers against Florida's full-court press. Wood finished with 12 points and was 4-for-8 from behind the 3-point arc.
"They've been going in a little bit more often, that's for sure," Wood said.
Dennis Horner injured his knee with 5:47 remaining in regulation but returned to the lineup and played the remainder of the game. He was taken to the trainer's room after the game and the extent of his injury is unclear at this time. Jordan Vandenberg returned to the line-up following a one-game absence due to an ankle injury. The freshman center played four minutes and scored two points.
The Pack got behind out of the gate against the Gators, but quickly reversed momentum in the first half with an 8-0 run that put the home team ahead for the rest of the half. Smith dominated inside despite being the focal point of the Florida zone defense, scoring 14 points on 6-of-9 shooting.
Florida shot just 36 percent from the floor and was 0-for-9 beyond the arc, but kept the game close thanks to nine offensive rebounds on 21 missed baskets. The Pack shot well early in the half but cooled off, finishing at 44 percent and 2-of-9 from 3-point range. The Gators closed the half on a 6-0 run to cut the Pack's lead to 29-27 at the half.
Points were even harder to come by in the second half, as both teams struggled to put the ball in the basket. Wood carried the Pack for much of the half, hitting three 3-pointers to score nine of team's 19 points. Luckily for the Pack, the Gators were almost as enept. Florida held a slim three-point lead with three minutes remaining in regulation and did not score again, with Gonzalez hitting a game-tying basket with 30 seconds left to send the game into overtime at 48-48.
"He missed a couple of shots, I think he had an air ball – but he battled back and we told him just to keep shooting and he'll knock them down, " Wood said. "He stepped up big in that overtime."
Gonzalez carried the Pack early in the overtime, scoring the first five points to help the Pack get out to a quick lead. The Gators scored just two points during the first four minutes of overtime, but made up for it by hitting two of its three made 3-point baskets in the final 15 seconds. The final one propelled the Gators two the win and sent the Pack home shaking its head in disbelief.