ON THIS DATE IN GATORS NCAA HISTORY: March 24, 2000
Florida’s first defeat of a No. 1-ranked team was a big one.
Freshman guard Brett Nelson scored 15 points and UF’s bench and game-long pressure defense overwhelmed top-ranked and top-seeded Duke in an 87-78 upset victory in the NCAA East Region.
The win advanced the fifth-seeded Gators into their first regional final since 1994 (and only the second in school history). It also came a little more than 15 months after the mighty Blue Devils destroyed the Gators by 30 at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
Armed with the likes of Shane Battier, Carlos Boozer, Jay Williams and Mike Dunleavy, the Blue Devils led by five points with just under six minutes to play when Florida kicked things into gear and outscored Duke 18-4 to finish the game.
Sophomore center Udonis Haslem scored 13 points and grabbed eight rebounds and sophomore forward Mike Miller (pictured) was good for 10 points and nine rebounds. Junior forward Brent Wright had 10 points and eight rebounds. Sophomore guard Teddy Dupay had 10 points.
UF held the Blue Devils, the top overall seed in the tournament, to 40 percent from the floor and just 3-for-19 from the 3-point line (15.7 percent) and outscored Duke off the bench 35-6.
The Gators advanced to the second regional final in school history, eventually defeating Oklahoma State to secure the first Final Four for Coach Billy Donovan.