Green lifts Gators over Wake and into MSG final
New York, NY (Sports Network) – Taurean Green scored a career-high 23 points
as Florida knocked off 19th-ranked Wake Forest, 77-72, in the first semifinal
of the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic at Madison Square Garden.
Green made 4-of-8 three-point attempts and added five assists and three steals
to help send the Gators (3-0) into Friday’s championship game, where they will
meet either Syracuse or Texas Tech. Corey Brewer contributed 15 points and Al
Horford had 11.
Eric Williams had 12 of his 20 points after halftime and Justin Gray finished
with 19 for the Demon Deacons (2-1), who will next face the loser of the other
semifinal in the third-place game on Friday. Trent Strickland netted 18 points
Wake Forest was hampered by 22 turnovers. Gray, taking over at point guard
with Chris Paul’s exodus to the NBA, had seven of those miscues.
Florida embarked on a 9-2 run early in the second half to snap a 47-47 tie and
take the lead for good. A dunk by Chris Richard followed by Green’s outside
jumper began the spurt, and Green capped it with a steal and dish to Brewer
for a fastbreak jam which put the Gators ahead 56-49 with 10:39 left to play.
Strickland’s three-pointer with just over nine minutes remaining got Wake
within 58-54, but Green drained a triple on the other end to kill the
The Deacons closed the gap and drew within 64-61 when Strickland hit two foul
shots with under five minutes to go. However, the Gators scored eight of the
next nine points to pull away.
A clutch three-pointer from Green followed by Horford’s putback of a Lee
Humphrey miss extended the lead to 70-61 with 2:30 left. Less than 30 seconds
later, Horford grabbed a defensive rebound and started a 4-on-1 that ended
with Brewer’s dunk which gave Florida a comfortable 72-62 advantage.
Gray’s basket from beyond the arc with 27 seconds remaining cut Wake’s deficit
to five points, but Green sealed the win by making two free throws on the
The teams were tied 34-34 in the late stages of a tightly contested first half
when the Gators began to briefly take control. Joakim Noah was fouled after
hitting a short baseline jumper with 2:33 remaining and made the subsequent
free throw to put Florida up by three. Seconds later, Green sank two foul
shots to give the Gators their largest lead of the period.
Gray buried a three-pointer with 1:16 remaining before intermission to bring
Wake Forest within 39-37 at the break.
Green topped all first-half scorers with 12 points.
Florida reached the finals of this tournament for the second time. The Gators
lost to Arizona in the 2001 championship game…Gray went 4-of-9 from three-
point range after not making one over Wake Forest’s first two games…Florida
opened the event with home wins over St. Peter’s (80-51) and Albany (83-64).
The Demon Deacons reached New York with a 78-64 victory over Mississippi
Valley State and an 83-78 overtime triumph over George Mason…The teams last
met on December 9, 1995, when Wake earned a 77-53 decision…Gators head coach
Billy Donovan received a technical foul for arguing a foul call on Brewer with
4:38 left in the first half.