Gators march on after beating Purdue
New Orleans, LA (Sports Network) - Al Horford scored 17 points and grabbed nine rebounds, leading Florida to a 74-67 victory over Purdue in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
Corey Brewer contributed 17 points with eight boards and Taurean Green added 14 points for the defending national champion Gators (31-5), who will advance to the Midwest Region semifinals for a Friday matchup with Butler in St. Louis.
"We knew we had to make plays down the stretch to win," said Brewer. "We couldn't get frustrated because they were going to be physical; they were physical the whole game. We just took it upon ourselves and just made plays."
Joakim Noah finished with nine points and nine rebounds for top-seeded Florida, which trailed by as many as seven in the first half and needed a late surge in the second half to win its sixth straight game.
Carl Landry scored 18 points and grabbed 10 rebounds to lead Purdue (22-12), which knocked off Arizona in the first round and gave Florida all it could handle. David Teague and Chris Kramer each finished with 14 points in defeat.
"They capitalized on a couple of turnovers and a couple of miscues and that is what champions do," said Teague. "They step up and make plays down the stretch. That was the difference in the ball game."
Purdue scored seven straight points to grab a 49-47 lead with just over seven minutes left, but Florida followed with the next seven. A three-pointer by Lee Humphrey capped the spurt and gave the Gators a 54-49 edge with 5:47 to play.
A dunk by Landry stopped the run and the Boilermakers clawed within two at 56-54 on a three-pointer by Teague.
After a trade of baskets, Horford hit a jump-hook in the lane and Brewer drained two from the line to extend the Florida lead back to six. Keaton Grant drilled a three for the Boilermakers to cut the deficit in half, but Horford made a short jumper and added a follow-slam with just under two minutes to play to give the Gators a 66-59 cushion.
Teague then missed from beyond the arc and Green made a pair of free throws to push the Florida lead to nine, and the Gators continued to make their free throws down the stretch to seal it.
Florida finished 27-of-31 from the stripe, led by Brewer's 8-for-8 effort. The Boilermakers were just 6-of-13 from the line.
Purdue opened a 23-16 lead on a three-pointer by Teague with just under 10 minutes to play in the first half and it was still a seven-point margin after Tarrance Crump drained two free throws 5 1/2 minutes later.
Florida answered with seven straight points before a Landry jumper in the final minute sent the Boilermakers into the break with a 31-29 advantage.
Teague scored the first two points of the second half before Florida rattled off five in a row to move in front. It remained tight for the next few minutes until Green buried back-to-back three-pointers to give the Gators a 43-38 lead with 12:40 remaining.
A jumper by Horford made it 47-40 a few moments later, but Purdue stormed back with nine straight points and moved in front on a driving layup by Kramer with 7:08 left.
Purdue has not advanced to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament since a regional final appearance in 2000...Florida evened the all-time series at 3-3.FLORIDA PURDUE