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Simpson's late jumper pushes Colorado past Florida in March Madness thriller


INDIANAPOLIS -- — KJ Simpson rattled in a tiebreaking jumper from the baseline with 2 seconds left, and 10th-seeded Colorado beat seventh-seeded Florida in a 102-100 thriller on Friday in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

Simpson finished with 23 points as the Buffaloes (26-10) and Gators (24-12) put on the most impressive offensive display of this year's March Madness. Colorado extended its single-season school record for wins two days after beating Boise State in the First Four. The Buffs advance in the South Region to face second-seeded Marquette on Sunday.

Walter Clayton Jr. scored the last 16 points for Florida, including a 3-pointer that tied the game at 100-all with 9 seconds left. He finished with a career-high 33 points, but his half-court heave at the buzzer didn't hit the rim, and Colorado moved on to the second round for the third time since 1998.

The Buffs' astonishing offensive totals: 34 of 54 (63%) from the field, 6 of 10 on 3-pointers and 28 of 33 (84.8%) on free throws. The Gators made five more 3s (11 of 25) and shot 51.5% overall (35 of 68) to keep pace.

Colorado was all but unstoppable for a long stretch of the second half as it built a 94-81 lead with 4:28 remaining, but Clayton took over from there as the Buffs made mistake after mistake. He converted a three-point play with 1:12 left, buried a 3 with 37 seconds left to get Florida within 99-96, and then pulled up from well outside the arc for the tying basket.

Eddie Lampkin Jr. scored 21 points for Colorado. Tristan da Silva added 17 points on 7-of-10 shooting, and J'Vonne Hadley had 16 as all five Buffs starters scored in double figures.

Will Richard scored 15 and Zyon Pullin had 13 for Florida, which had won its previous nine first-round games, dating to a 2010 double-overtime loss to Brigham Young.

The game was fast-paced from the start and both teams went on strong scoring runs. Colorado battled back from a 10-point first-half deficit to tie the score at 45-all on Simpson's step-back jumper at the halftime buzzer.

The Buffs appeared to swing the game their way when Florida coach Todd Golden was called for a technical foul after Lampkin made layup. Colorado converted that into a five-point play for an 82-72 lead with 7:44 to go.

Florida’s players wore warmup shirts with injured teammate Micah Handlogten’s name and jersey number, 3, on the back. The 7-foot sophomore, who broke his left leg in last weekend’s Southeastern Conference Tournament championship game loss to Auburn, sat behind the bench.

The Gators were playing in the city where they first reached the NCAA title game in 2000 and then won their first national title six years later. Former quarterback Anthony Richardson, now with the Indianapolis Colts, was in attendance, dressed in a bright orange shirt.


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