Michigan's Trey Burke, right, participates in a news conference with teammates Saturday in Arlington, Texas.
ARLINGTON, Texas — As if Trey Burke wasn’t a target before, the point guard’s Texas-sized 3-pointer at the end of regulation on Friday — which graced highlight reels and had thousands of YouTube hits for the following 24 hours — has made him the center of attention.
This is particularly the case for Florida, which prepares to defend against Sports Illustrated’s national player of the year today at Cowboys Stadium.
Burke’s game-tying shot helped the Michigan men’s basketball team to an 87-85 overtime win against Kansas in the Sweet Sixteen, which put the fourth-seeded Wolverines in the Elite Eight, where they will face the third-seeded Gators.
“I would say the closest player that we’ve faced is probably Phil Pressey [at Missouri], but I’d say he does a better job of scoring than Pressey,” Florida guard Scottie Wilbekin said of Burke. “He’s a great player, and he does a great job of getting into the lane. Once he gets in there, he can either finish himself or find all of the shooters they have, or even [Mitch] McGary inside.”
Wilbekin and Burke will square off when the two teams play at 2:20 p.m. today.
“He’s a really good defender and a really good distributor, as well,” Burke said of Wilbekin, who is considered one of the Southeastern Conference’s top defenders. “My job is just to try to keep him out of the paint as much as possible and make him take the tough 2s.”
GETTING PAID: Florida coach Billy Donovan didn’t shy away when he was asked if NCAA student-athletes should receive paychecks.
“I think there has to be something done, in my opinion,” Donovan said. “And I don’t know what that is. I don’t have a solution or an answer to that.”
Donovan gave a lengthy response in which he outlined the role of the NCAA and the rules committee’s role in “keeping integrity and amateurism status” but also said he understood the athlete’s point of view.
“There’s a lot of financial gains being made through this tournament,” Donovan said. “And I’m not saying these guys should be on a full salary, but there should be something done for them to make their life a little bit easier when they’re going through college.”
FOR THE RECORD: Burke’s 23-point, 10-assist performance against Kansas was the first 20-point, 10-assist performance in the Sweet Sixteen since 1987, when Donovan did it as a member of the Providence men’s basketball team.
“Coach understands that,” Florida guard Kenny Boynton said. “But he’s breaking his own records as a coach.”
Donovan scored 26 points and had 10 assists for the Friars in a 103-82 win over Alabama 26 years ago. Donovan’s current team will play in its third Elite Eight in as many seasons.
OFF THE HOOK: Burke said that he received “about 200 messages” after he hit the game-tying 3-pointer against Kansas.
“I expected it,” Burke said. “Everybody on the team had a lot of messages. I think we deserved them. We fought back as a team [Friday]. I had a lot of messages from people that said they thought we were going to lose."
RISING STOCK: Yahoo! Sports reported Saturday that Southern California is pursuing Florida Gulf Coast coach Andy Enfield, whose team made an improbable run in this year’s NCAA tournament.
Enfield’s FGCU team — a 15 seed in the South region and the first 15 seed to advance to the Sweet Sixteen — upset second-seeded Georgetown and seventh-seeded San Diego State before falling to Florida.
USC is looking to fill its men’s basketball vacancy after it fired Kevin O’Neill in January.