Las Vegas Florida is not invincible after all.
Somebody, namely Kansas University, finally gave the Gators a game.
KU, in fact, defeated the defending national champions and top-ranked team in the land, 82-80 in overtime Saturday night before a giddy pro-Jayhawk throng of 8,500 at sold-out Orleans Arena.
The No. 10-rated Jayhawks overcame a three-point deficit with 1:21 left in overtime and defeated a Gator team that had won 17 straight games in tying a school record and had blown out six teams this season by an average of 40.5 points a game.
"I don't think we've played a team as good as Florida since I've been at Kansas," KU coach Bill Self said. "They don't have any holes. It was a battle of wills."
The Jayhawks won that battle in the title game of the Las Vegas Invitational, thanks in large part to a career-high 21-point scoring effort from Julian Wright, who had 17 the first half as the Jayhawks built a 37-31 lead.
"It's hard to imagine a college player having a better game, a better half," Self said of Wright, who had 10 rebounds. "Julian was as good as Julian has probably ever been in his life."
Wright, MVP of the Las Vegas Invitational, came out blazing in hitting seven of 10 first-half shots. He was joined on the all-tournament team by Mario Chalmers (13 points) and Russell Robinson (12 points, seven rebounds, three assists).
"I knew I had to be aggressive. I am usually not that type of player, but it was the only way I could handle the intensity of the game," said Wright, who held his MVP trophy high as fans swarmed the court after the awards presentation. The fans celebrated KU's first win over a No. 1 team since a victory over UMass on Dec. 3, 1994, in Anaheim, Calif.
Freshman Darrell Arthur could have made all-tournament after scoring 19 points and grabbing nine rebounds, but didn't.
Florida's Taurean Green (25 points) and Al Horford did make the squad.
"It's the biggest win I've been part of in my life," said Arthur, who hit key free throws down the stretch.
The Jayhawks, who saw a four-point lead disappear in the final 17 seconds of regulation (after Arthur had hit four clutch free throws and Robinson two) trailed 80-77 after Green's three with 1:21 to play.
However, KU wasn't finished. Arthur hit two free throws at 1:01, then after a Wright steal of a pass to Joakim Noah, Brandon Rush cashed a layup off a pass from Chalmers, giving KU a 81-80 lead at :26.9.
Brewer fired up an airball at :11, not able to put up a strong shot over the arms of Rush. The ball sailed out of bounds.
Robinson hit one of two free throws at 4.7 seconds. Brewer missed a last-gasp three from the corner, Arthur and Rush both guarding the player.
"Coach challenged us at a team meeting we had last night (at team hotel)," Robinson said. "He said if we don't box out and compete, we don't beat Florida. He said if we don't do that he'll say, 'I told you so.'
"We came out and competed against a very good team."
Self was amazed the game first went to overtime.
"We had the game and we gave it away," Self said.
Up 70-66, Green hit shot and was fouled inside by Wright. Green missed a layup with 10 ticks left, but Noah tapped in a rebound at three seconds, forcing OT.
"Our guys kept coming back, coming back," Self said, indicating it was likely the biggest regular-season win in his four years at KU. "We were down three and get layups (in overtime) against Florida. Our guards did a great job getting the ball to the post, probably the best job of that since I've been at Kansas."
No player on Florida's team had ever lost a game in November.
"I thought our fans were great," Self said of the massive throng of KU fans that numbered about 5,000. "We didn't play well last night. Tonight we played great. Our guys were ready. They played with a free mind, played hard."
It was the Wright show the first half. The lanky sophomore scored 17 points off 7-of-10 shooting with six rebounds while playing all but 23 seconds in the entire half.
After Wright, the Jayhawks' second-leading scorer in the half was Rush, who had six points.
Florida was led by Lee Humphrey and Green, who had 10 each.
Wright had two baskets and an assist as the Jayhawks stormed to an 11-2 lead.
Chalmers answered a game-opening Horford bucket with a three to start the surge. Wright had two baskets and an assist.
The Jayhawks led 20-9 with 12:20 left in the half. Humphrey scored five straight points in opening a 16-8 run that cut KU's lead to 28-25 at 5:33.
KU kept its composure and immediately went on a 7-0 surge that gave the Jayhawks a 34-26 lead at 1:21. Wright had an inside bucket and free throw in that span. He also hit a corner shot with 15 seconds left in the half, giving KU a 36-29 lead. It was 37-31 at the break.
The Jayhawks, 5-1, will meet Dartmouth at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Allen Fieldhouse.