Gators headed back to championship game
Atlanta, GA (Sports Network) – Corey Brewer scored 19 points and Lee Humphrey
added 14 to lead the defending national champion Florida Gators over the UCLA
Bruins, 76-66, in Final Four action of the NCAA Tournament.
The duo shot a combined 10-of-18, including 8-of-13 from three, for Florida
(34-5), which will now have the chance to become the first back-to-back
champions since Duke won its second of consecutive titles in 1992 when it
faces Ohio State on Monday. The Buckeyes beat Georgetown, 67-60, in the first
semifinal of the night, setting up a familiar title tilt.
It was in January when Florida’s football program beat heavily favored Ohio
State to come away with the Bowl Championship Series national title.
In a rematch of last year’s national title game that the Gators easily won,
73-57, UCLA (30-6) again barely put up a fight. The Bruins’ leader Aaron
Afflalo was in foul trouble most of the night, ending with 17 points that
all came in the second half. Josh Shipp led UCLA with 18 points.
Joakim Noah ended with eight points, 11 rebounds and four blocks and Chris
Richard had 16 points for the Gators, who have won nine straight overall, 11
in a row in the NCAA Tournament and 17 straight single-elimination games that
includes two SEC Tournament titles.
Al Horford added nine points and 17 boards and Taureen Green had 10 points for
Florida, which broke open a close game in the second half.
The Bruins controlled the pace of the game early on, holding a 6-2 lead with
just over 7 1/2 minutes elapsed in the contest. However, action picked up over
the final 12-plus minutes and Florida benefited.
After Afflalo picked up his third foul of the game with 11:26 left in the
first half, the Bruins hung in there thanks to Shipp, whose layup with 6:36 on
the clock tied the game at 16.
Brewer, though, sparked a 10-0 run with a three-pointer as the Gators opened
up a 26-16 lead after Noah hit 1-of-2 free throws with 3:28 left. Florida used
that momentum to hold on for a 29-23 halftime lead.
The Gators then opened it up in the second half. Ahead 32-28, Florida ran off
12 straight points to put the game out of reach. Humphrey began the run with a
three-pointer and Richard ended it with a dunk at the 13:52 mark for a 44-28
The lead later reached 18 points after a Richard three-point play with 9:02
left. UCLA tried to make it interesting, drawing within 10 points for the
first time at 72-62 late in the game.
Humphrey became the all-time leader in NCAA Tournament history in three-point
baskets made with 43. He entered the game three shy of Bobby Hurley’s
42…Shipp scored 14 first-half points…Florida and Ohio State played once
earlier this season with the Gators coming away with an 86-60 victory in
Gainesville…Richard hit all seven of his shots from the floor.