Sunday , Mar , 25 , 2007 C.Y. Ellis

Gators chomp Ducks, back in Final Four

St. Louis, MO (Sports Network) – The defending champions are back in the Final
Four.

Lee Humphrey nailed seven three-pointers — including several key buckets down
the stretch — to guide Florida past Oregon, 85-77, in the Midwest Regional
Finals at the Edward Jones Dome. The Gators move on to Atlanta to take on UCLA
in a rematch of last year’s title game. Florida won that contest 73-57 to
capture its first-ever national championship.

Humphrey finished with 23 points and Taurean Green netted 21 for Florida
(33-5), which matched a program record for victories in a season, tying last
year’s mark.

Leader Joakim Noah posted a double-double with 14 points and 14 rebounds,
and Corey Brewer also scored 14 while coming up with a big block late.

Aaron Brooks led all scorers with 27 points and Malik Hairston dropped in 18
for the Ducks (29-8), who were in the Elite Eight for the first time since
2002.

The early stages of the second half were nip-and-tuck, with Florida playing
front-runner for the most part but unable to gain any significant separation.
And, following a Brooks layup, the Ducks pulled even at 45-45 with about 17
minutes remaining in the game.

Green countered with five straight points, though — nailing a three-pointer
before slicing to the rim for a lay-in — to put the Gators ahead for good.

Humphrey caught fire from there to help grow the lead. After Maarty Leunen
moved his club back within three with a pair of free throws, the senior guard
dropped in a triple to make it 53-47.

The margin hovered around that mark for the next few minutes, until Humphrey
provided the defining sequence. He rose up and buried a three with just under
nine minutes to play, then after a Brooks turnover, hit another triple from
the right wing to push the advantage to 67-57.

FLORIDA OREGON