Florida ends George Mason's Cinderella run, advances to title bout
Indianapolis, IN (Sports Network) - Lee Humphrey and Corey Brewer each scored 19 points to lead four Florida players in double figures, as the Gators earned a trip to the national championship game after thumping George Mason, 73-58, in a Final Four bout at the RCA Dome.
Taurean Green added 15 points for the Gators (32-6), who will return to the championship game for the first time since 2000 when the school lost to Michigan State.
Joakim Noah donated 12 points, eight rebounds and four blocks in Florida's 10th straight win, which includes tournament victories over South Alabama, Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Georgetown and top-seeded Villanova.
The third-seeded Gators will face the winner of the LSU/UCLA game Monday night for the national title.
Jai Lewis and Tony Skinn tallied 13 points each for the 11th-seeded Patriots (27-8), who saw their Cinderella run end after knocking off the likes of Michigan State, North Carolina, Wichita State and top-seeded Connecticut.
Lewis also grabbed 11 rebounds.
George Mason, which became the first 11 seed to reach the Final Four since the 1986 LSU squad, lost in its first trip to the Final Four. That LSU squad also failed to reach the title game after losing to Louisville.
Will Thomas and Folarin Campbell each scored 10 points in defeat.
The Gators hit on a blistering 48 percent (12-of-25) from three-point range while the Patriots countered with only 18.2 percent (2-of-11). Humphrey connected on six of his 12 attempts from long distance, while Brewer and Green each finished 3-for-6 from behind the arc.
Ahead by five after halftime, Florida came out firing from behind the arc to start the second half, as Humphrey dropped in three straight from long distance as part of a 12-2 run to start the frame to stake the Gators to a 43-28 lead just over four minutes in.
Lewis netted the only points for George Mason during Florida's run, hitting two from the free throw line at 18:16 of the second, and the Patriots didn't find the bottom of the net again until Thomas' layup with 14:40 to play.
The Gators stretched their lead to 19 at 51-32 after a pair of free throws from Noah with 11:49 remaining and a three-pointer by Humphrey made it a 56-38 contest with 9:17 to play.
George Mason tried to crawl back into the game, using a 12-4 burst to get within nine, 64-55. Campbell capped the spurt with a three-pointer with a little under five minutes left to go.
The Patriots, though, ran out of time and offense as the Gators scored nine of the last 12 points in the game to account for the final score.
The Gators also jumped out in front early in the first half, but the Patriots were able to get back into the game by the break.
After George Masons' Lamar Butler netted the first points of the game, Florida ripped off a 16-4 run that spanned just under five minutes.
However, the Gators went cold from the floor and Campbell netted the first three of the Patriots' next seven points to pull within 16-13 close to the midpoint of the half.
George Mason got to within one point twice during the first 20 minutes, but Florida repelled the attack both times. Campbell's layup made it an 18-17 game, but Brewer answered from behind the arc with 7 1/2 minutes to put the Gators up by four.
Later, a layup and free throw from Skinn pulled the Patriots to within 25-24 with 3:48 left until halftime, but Florida netted six of the last eight points of the half, courtesy of a pair of treys from Green, to take a 31-26 advantage into the break.
Al Horford added six points, 13 rebounds and four assists in the win...Butler netted eight points in the loss...The Gators held a decisive edge in rebounds at 40-27...Both Florida and George Mason both set school records for wins in a season...The Patriots lost for just the fourth time in their last 24 games...The Gators are playing in their eighth straight NCAA Tournament and this will be their third appearance in the Final Four...George Mason was the first Colonial Athletic Association team to ever reach the Final Four.FLORIDA GMASON