Tied at 97 nearly halfway through the game’s second overtime, Jalen Hudson paced himself, finding a crease on the left side early in the shot clock.
Hudson released the ball as fast as he received it from beyond-the-arc, finding the bottom of the net and giving the Gators the game’s final lead.
First it was Jalen Hudson splashing a three-pointer, then 90 seconds later, it was Egor Koul…
Hudson’s eight three-pointers and 35 points overall muscled No. 7 Florida (5-0) past No. 17 Gonzaga (4-1) 111-105 in double-overtime to advance to the championship game of the Phil Knight Invitational Motion bracket against No. 1 Duke.
“We hit some big shots down the stretch,” Hudson said. “But it was really all about getting stops.”
Both teams struggled early to find consistency on offense, but that quickly changed as the second half began.
After shooting 4-12 from beyond-the-arc in the first half, the Gators refused to shy away from taking long shots. Their devotion to three paid off, as they hit 13 of their 17 three-pointers in the second half and both overtimes.
Hudson was held to just four points early in the game, but exploded offensively in the second half, at one point scoring 16 of UF’s 20 points over a stretch halfway through.
Gonzaga leaned on forward Johnathan Williams to anchor the offense. The redshirt senior started off with 12 points and five rebounds in the first half, but totaled a game-high 39 to go along with 12 rebounds in the end.
Both teams exchanged the lead down the stretch, with the Gators trailing 78-76 with 41 seconds remaining in regulation.
Junior guard KeVaughn Allen swiftly created a lane on the right side of the court. He went up and under the rim to avoid getting blocked by two Zags, finishing the layup and tying the game at 78.
In the first overtime, Florida held as much as a four-point edge, but couldn’t hold on.
With the Gators up 95-93, Gonzaga guard Silas Melson drove in the lane and finished a layup with a foul. Melson missed the free throw, sending the game into double OT.
Florida let loose the three-ball to break away from the Zags. After Hudson hit the first to put the Gators up three, guard Chris Chiozza hit one at the top of the key. Hudson followed that possession by draining another three-pointer.
Chiozza and Allen each had their best offensive nights. Allen poured in 23 points, while Chiozza had a his second straight double-double with 26 points and 10 assists.
Chiozza took a hard fall in the game’s waning minutes and was attended to by trainers after the conclusion.
“He was everything,” Hudson said of his teammate. “From defense, to assisting, to rebounding… I think he had more rebounds than me.”
The Gators managed to stick with Gonzaga despite losing the battle in the paint 52-24. The Zags also shot slightly better overall at 48.1 percent, while Florida hit 45.8 percent of its shots from the field.
Now, the Gators face a tough test Sunday night, taking on the top-ranked team in the nation in the Blue Devils at 10:30 p.m.
“I wish we could play tomorrow, honestly,” Hudson said. “I got some juices flowing…coach White is gonna make sure we’re ready for them.”
A television broadcast contributed to this article.
You can follow Skyler Lebron on Twitter @SkylerLebron, and contact him at [email protected].