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Florida Outlasts Weber State

"The Show" is over for Weber State. But what a show it was.

Greg Stolt scored five of his 26 points in overtime Saturday as Florida finally put away the upstart Wildcats 82-74 to advance to the West Regional semifinals.

The Gators (22-8) made six of eight free throws in the final 39 seconds, including two apiece by Teddy Dupay and Brent Wright, to seal the victory.

Harold "The Show" Arcenaux, who had 36 points in Weber's 76-74 upset of North Carolina in the first round, had 32 Saturday. But he was shut down much of the second half as the Gators' persistent pressure finally wore down the weary Wildcats.

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  • Arcenauex, who left the arena without talking to reporters, wound up playing 43 minutes. Point guard Eddie Gill played 45.

    "Fatigue was definitely a factor," Weber State's Andy Jensen said, "especially on the defensive end and in the transition game. I was beat."

    Florida coach Billy Donovan switched from his trademark man-to-man defense to a zone with just under four minutes left in regulation.

    "It bothered us a little bit," the Wildcats' Noel Jackson said. "It took us out of our rhythm a little bit. I wasn't expecting to see a zone all night."

    Still, Weber State (25-8), the West's No. 14 seed, had a chance to go ahead with 8.2 seconds left in regulation.

    With Florida leading 68-66, Kenyan Weaks fouled Jackson on a 3-point try. Jackson made the first free throw, but after the Gators called timeout, missed the second. The senior guard made the third, however, to tie it at 68.

    "I don't feel bad about missing the free throw," Jackson said. "I'd love to have made it, but I feel good that I gave the team a chance to go into overtime. We just didn't play well in overtime."

    Dupay's driving bank shot just before the buzze bounced hard off the backboard and the game went into overtime.

    Stolt, a 6-foot-8 senior, was 10-for-13 from the field, including 4-for-5 from 3-point range, Dupay was just 3-for-11 from the field but made a crucial 3-pointer late in regulation and had a three-point play on a slick bank shot to put Florida up 75-69 with 2:01 to play. He finished with 14 points.

    Weaks scored 11 for Florida. Gill added 19 points for Weber State but was just 5-for-14 from the field.

    Florida made it to the Final Four in 1994, but the program fell on hard times after that. Donovan, a protege of Rick Pitino, has the Gators back in just his third season despite playing four freshmen, including Dupay and Miller.

    "The last couple of years we really didn't expect to be here," said Stolt, one of two seniors on the squad. "It's an unbelievable feeling to be in the Sweet 16."

    It was a bittersweet ending for Ron Abegglen, Weber State's coach for eight years. He had announced last August that he would step down after this season. The announcement came by mutual agreement with the university administration after Abegglen's wife accused him of domestic abuse.

    "There was a pain or two," Abegglen said of his feelings as he left the court. "But I'm OK. We made it to the big dance and we beat North Carolina. That's not too shabby."

    Stolt, who also played a big role in holding down Arcenaux after his 21-point first half, opened the overtime with a layup and a bank shot to give Florida a quick 72-68 lead.

    Jensen made one of two free throws to cut it to 72-69. After Dupay's three-point play, Arcenaux made his only basket of the overtime, a 16-footer, to cut it to 75-71 with 1:36 remaining.

    Stolt made one of two free throws with 1:07 to go to put the Gators up 76-71. Gill's 3-pointer sliced the lead to 76-74 with 49.6 to play.

    But the parade to the free throw line began for Florida. Weber State, trying to become the first Big Sky Conference team to win two NCAA tournament games in 22 years, never scored again.

    Florida trailed 40-35 at the half, but that's nothing new for the Gators, who were down 43-32 at the break against Penn before storming back to win 75-61. Stolt sank a 3-pointer to start the second half, igniting a 12-3 run that put the Gators up 47-43 on Mike Miller's 16-footer with 15:22 to play. But Florida couldn't put it away.

    With his team leading 64-62, Dupay missed a layup and Udonis Haslem missed a followup dunk. He also was called for a technical for hanging on the rim. Gill made both free throws to tie it at 64 with 3:17 to play.

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