Saturday , Mar , 25 , 2006 C.Y. Ellis

Noah leads Gators past Hoyas, and into final eight against ‘Cats

Minneapolis, MN (Sports Network) – Joakim Noah netted 15 points and
pulled down 10 rebounds to lead Florida past Georgetown, 57-53, in the
Minneapolis Regional semifinals of the NCAA Tournament at the Metrodome.

“I have to give Georgetown a lot of credit,” said Florida coach Billy Donovan.
“They did a good job defensively. I thought we had some looks coming in and
around the basket. We were very, very fortunate to win. It could have gone
either way. I think the Georgetown kids played a great game.”

Taurean Green added 13 points for the third-seeded Gators (30-6), who set a
school record with their 30th win and reached a regional final for the first
time since 2000. Al Horford chipped in with 12 points in the win.

Jeff Green recorded 15 points for the seventh-seeded Hoyas (23-10), who were
trying to reach a regional final for the first time since the 1996 season.
Ashanti Cook recorded 12 points while Brandon Bowman and Roy Hibbert each
added 10 points for Georgetown in the loss.

The Gators will now move on to face Villanova in the Minneapolis Regional
final on Sunday.

“We have to move on to the next opponent,” said Noah. “It’s a great feeling,
but we have to be ready for the battle and just be physically and mentally
ready for a greater opponent, Villanova”

After a tightly contested first half, Florida eased ahead by scoring the first
eight points of the final frame.

Green opened the half with a three. After Noah got loose inside for a layup,
Horford followed with a jumper and capped the short spurt by hitting 1-of-2
from the line to make the score 36-30 with a little over 17 minutes remaining.

Georgetown battled back over the next several minutes and regained the
advantage with a 14-6 flurry. Owens capped the burst when he found Bowman
cutting back door for a slam dunk. The bucket gave the Hoyas a two-point
advantage, 44-42, with just over seven minutes left.

The two teams continued to play nip and tuck basketball as the contest headed
towards the stretch. Darrel Owens buried a triple with just over three minutes
left to deadlock things at 49.

Thirty-seven seconds later, Bowman made a layup to put the Hoyas on top by
two, 51-49.

Lee Humphrey answered with a trey that put Florida back on top, 52-51 but the
see-saw battle continued when Cook buried a jumper with 1:42 left to put
Georgetown in the lead, 53-52.

Florida then took the lead for good. After an offensive rebound, Corey Brewer
hit a twisting, improbable shot from the right side of the lane while drawing
contact. The ensuing free throw gave Florida a two-point edge, 55-53, with
27.5 ticks left.

“I was driving and I really didn’t see the guy behind me,” Brewer said of his
circus shot. “I tried to spin. When I spun, I split em, and I threw it up and
it went in.”

Owens long three from straight away bounced off the back of the rim and the
Hoyas were forced to foul Horford with 6.6 seconds on the clock. The sophomore
forward calmly stepped to the line and buried both of his attempts to send the
Gators to the Elite Eight.

Georgetown jumped out early and led by as many as nine, 21-12, in the opening
frame after Cook deposited a layup with just under nine minutes left.

Florida bounced back with a 12-2 run, fueled by a pair of Horford buckets, to
take its only lead of the first half, 24-23, with 5 1/2 minutes remaining.

The Hoya righted themselves and managed to take a two-point edge by
intermission, 30-28.

Game Notes

Georgetown is 40-22 all-time in the NCAA tourney. Florida is 20-12…The
all-time series between the two teams is tied, 2-2…Villanova beat Florida in
the second round of last year’s tourney.