Coach Billy Donovan's first great run with the Florida Gators nearly ended before it began.

Mike Miller's game-winning layup as time expired against Butler during the opening round of the 2000 NCAA Tournament ignited an unexpected ride to the Final Four by the Gators.

Following the UF's struggle to beat Albany Thursday, Donovan recalled that moment for his players. Florida's 67-55 win at Orlando's Amway Center was not nearly as dramatic, but the Gators hope a lackluster first game can serve as a similar wake-up call.

"That team back there was like, 'Wow,' this almost ended," Donovan said about his 2000 squad. "It actually created a little bit more energy for our team the rest of the tournament. And the thing I tried to explain is that you've got to be able to take game to game and you've got to be able to put it behind you, get ready and move on to the next one."

No. 1 seed UF (33-2) now will face No. 9 seed Pittsburgh (26-9) Saturday.

During the first game in Orlando, the Panthers pounced on Colorado, staking a 13-0 lead and building the margin to 28 points during the first half.

"That could be us if we don't get things fixed," UF shooting guard Michael Frazier II.

The Gators entered the week holding the tournament's top seed, riding a 26-game winning streak and expected to make a strong push to the Final Four.

But Florida came out flat against Albany, fell behind and did not put an end to the Great Danes' bid to become the first No. 16 seed to win an NCAA Tournament game until freshman back-up point guard Kasey Hill breathed some life into the punchless Gators.

The 6-foot-1 Hill, who hails from Umatilla, was a game-time decision because of turf toe in his right foot. But he had 10 points — the first double-digit game for the 2013 McDonald's All-America since November — and two steals during the second half as the Gators finally broke open a close game.

With the game tied 39-39, Hill sparked a 9-0 run with a coast-to-coast drive and a pair of freethrows to give UF a 47-39 lead. Hill's energy shifted the tempo in the Gators' favor and helped them overcome an off night by SEC player of the year Scottie Wilbekin.

The senior point guard finished with 10 points, four assists and one turnover in 35 minutes, but did not put his stamp on the game as he has done all season.

"I don't know what would have happened if he had not come out and played like that," Wilbekin said of Hill. "He was aggressive, got in the lane, he made plays, got some hands on some balls. He played really good."