Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Twist of Fate Can Make UF Great

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Twist of Fate Can Make UF Great

Article excerpt

INDIANAPOLIS -- As Mike Miller's last-second prayer against Butler collided with the front of the rim, bounded upward and fell through, Steve Spurrier once again had that national championship feeling.

He could sense something special was about to happen, just like in 1996 when an unimaginable set of occurrences allowed his football Gators to win a school-first national title. Remember? Texas dupes Nebraska on a fourth-and-1 miracle? Ohio State rallies in the final seconds to defeat Arizona State in the Rose Bowl. And with the door suddenly swung open, the Gators rushed through and annihilated Florida State 52-20 in the Sugar Bowl.

"I saw Mike Miller and some of the other players in the weight room after the Butler game," Spurrier said yesterday from his home in Gainesville.

"I told them, 'I think something good is in store for you guys. You may be a team of destiny, just like we were in '96.'"

It's funny how a lucky break can galvanize a good team and transform it into a great one. There's something about being near death that makes you appreciate life that much more. The Gators are playing Michigan State for the national championship tonight, only 16 days after their March Mulligan.

Let's be honest, Florida really had no right beating Butler. The Bulldogs led by seven late in regulation, but there were some questionable calls and non-calls that helped Florida get back into it.

Still, with 8.1 seconds left and the Gators trailing by a point, Butler's LaVall Jordan -- an 83 percent free-throw shooter -- stood at the line with a chance to win.

Clang.

Clunk.

He missed them both.

That's when Miller took the pass from a stumbling Teddy Dupay, head-faked left, went right, lowered his shoulder and made his way down the lane. He put up a soft 5-footer that caught the front of the rim, caromed, cogitated and finally dropped through as the horn sounded.

"We're very, very fortunate to be here," acknowledged Donovan, whose team has dominated by an average of 13 points in the four tournament games since the Butler reprieve. …

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