Originally published March 24, 2011 at 09:14p.m., updated March 25, 2011 at 01:03a.m.
New Orleans Alex Tyus is like most of these Florida Gators — good at a lot of things, but lacking one dominant skill. He's usually content to blend in and be just another part of the team's effectively anonymous style.
On the biggest stage of his career, the senior's impact was obvious.
Tyus had 19 points and 17 rebounds as Florida beat BYU 83-74 in overtime Thursday night, chasing a bloodied Jimmer Fredette and the Cougars out of the NCAA tournament.
Now the Gators will be playing for a spot in the Final Four for the first time since 2007 — ascending back into the nation's elite after a hiatus from the spotlight following back-to-back national championships in 2006 and '07.
"It's been so rewarding for me to see them make the journey they've made to this point now," Florida coach Billy Donovan said. "It's been very, very rewarding and fulfilling for me, and I hope in some way I've been able to give them as much as they've given me."
While Fredette was the star attraction, scoring 32 points on 11 for 29 shooting in the final game of his college career, Florida countered with balance.
Kenny Boynton added 17 points — while also playing tight defense on Fredette — and Erving Walker and Chandler Parsons both scored 16. Boynton and Parsons each hit 3-pointers in overtime as Florida outscored BYU 15-6.
But it was Tyus' monster game that put the Gators over the top. The 6-foot-8 senior is the team's fifth-leading scorer, averaging 8.6 points and 5.7 rebounds coming into the game.
"The thing about Alex is he never really gets fazed with the moment or with what's going on," Florida coach Billy Donovan said. "One of the things I've tried to pull out of him and get him to see is that when he has a lot of activity and he's flying around the court, because of his athleticism, he's got a great ability to impact a game."
While Tyus was battling under the basket, Boynton was glued to Fredette on defense the entire game.
Fredette made just 3 of 15 from 3-point range and had to work for his points against the physical pressure. By the end of the night, he had a bandage on his chin from a blow in the second half and a sore calf, but the baskets kept coming until he was held scoreless in overtime.
When the outcome became apparent with one minute remaining, BYU coach Dave Rose subbed out Fredette, bringing a standing ovation from the crowd. He averaged nearly 33 points during three NCAA Tournament games and finished the season by scoring at least 30 points in seven out of eight games.
Rose said Fredette's legacy would be a simple one to define.
"Winning games — that's his legacy," Rose said. "He just helped his team find ways to win games."
But it's Florida (29-7) that continues to play, eliminating BYU (32-5) and reached its first regional final since 2007.
The Gators led for much of the first half, but BYU rallied to tie the game at 36 by halftime.
Florida was almost unstoppable early, making 10 of its first 13 shots and leading by 10 points early. But the Gators cooled dramatically from that point, making just 4 of 13 from the field and 1 of 6 from the free-throw line in the first half.
Fredette, who came into the game as the nation's leading scorer at 28.8 points per game, missed his first six shots from the field. But the Cougars were able to tread water thanks to Jackson Emery and Stephen Rogers, who combined to hit five 3-pointers in the first half.
Fredette was held scoreless for nearly 14 minutes before hitting a layup with 6:17 remaining in the first half. He made four of his next seven shots to finish the half with 10 points.
"I tried my best on every shot to be in his face every time he'd rise up," Boynton said. "I played into his moves before he did them. He started settling a lot and taking a lot of threes instead of going to the hole."
The Gators double-teamed Fredette occasionally, but usually guarded him one-on-one with Boynton or Scottie Wilbekin. Fredette was bumped several times while trying to finish layups, and two of his first three shots were blocked.
But fouls were hard to come by, despite Fredette's occasional glares toward officials and the anger from the vastly pro-BYU crowd at New Orleans Arena.
"It was just a little frustration, just because that's what happens sometimes during basketball games," Fredette said. "But I tried to keep an even keel, and we were still right in there at the end of the game. We just didn't win."
Parsons said he could tell Fredette was upset.
"That's just a credit to our guys on defense — especially Kenny Boynton," Parsons said. "He stayed with him and made it difficult for him out there."
By midway through the second half, Fredette's chin was bleeding and he came out of a timeout sporting a white bandage.
But he still had the flair for the dramatic.
He brought the crowd to its feet with 4:56 remaining, nailing a 3-pointer from 30 feet away to tie the game at 63.
But Florida wasn't rattled, making several big shots. Tyus did the vast majority of his damage in the most crucial moments, with 12 points and 11 rebounds after halftime.
The Gators' offense was rarely flashy, but usually effective. They shots 47.7 percent from the field (31 of 65) and managed to win despite a 10 of 22 performance (45.5 percent) from the free throw line.
The Gators had the last shot in regulation, but Parsons missed a contested layup with one second remaining.
Compared to the tense final moments of the second half, overtime was anticlimactic. Tyus hit a layup and Boynton made a short jumper to give Florida a 72-68 lead and the Gators cruised from there as Fredette's 3-pointers wouldn't fall.
"It looked like they had a little more to finish the game than we did," Rose said.
BYU beat Florida 99-92 in double overtime in the first round of last year's NCAA Tournament. In that game, Fredette had 37 points, but reserve guard Michael Loyd, Jr., added 26 points.
This year, Fredette didn't have a helper. Nobody else scored in double figures.
BYU finished the season with the most wins in school history and made the round of 16 for the first time since 1981, when another famous Cougars guard, Danny Ainge, was the star