Gators Have Bruins For Dinner

By Emmett L. Gill, Jr
Updated: April 4, 2006

NCAA Men’s Finals

Florida 73, UCLA 57

INDIANA—The first half of the national championship was a story of Florida’s good coaching, excellent execution, and NBA-type talent. The Gators (33-6) continuously brushed UCLA (32-7) off their shoulders on their way to their first national championship for the school and the sunshine state. Florida was led by Jokiam Noah (16 points, 8 rebounds) and Lee Humphrey (15 points, 1 assist).

In the first half the Gators limited the Bruins to 28 percent shooting, behind five block shots by Jokiam Noah and a stew of defenses by Coach Billy Donovan. Adrian Moss put the Gators on his shoulders by contributing 7 points over the first twenty minutes. Instead of shooting three point shots, as they did in the semifinals, the Atlanta region champion shifted gears and attacked the rim. Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, who dropped 17 points against LSU, did not turn in the type of performance that put Glenn “Big Baby” Davis to bed, going 3 of 9 from the field.

The second half started out with a steady storm of jumpers as Florida dropped three straight threes. Humphrey and Brewer rained the bombs on the Bruins, who could have gone down by more than 18 if Florida had converted on plethora of fastbreak opportunities. Jordan Farmar (18 points) tried to keep the Bruins in the game with sporadic jumpers and by providing the Bruins with chances to convert follow-up baskets after he broke down the Gator half court defense. Yet, even when the Bruins scored the Gators transitioned from defense to a deliberate transition-like, half-court offense. Donovan and the Gators switched gears again offensively as Taureen Green began to dish and Noah and Al Horford (14 points, 7 rebounds) began to finish with some highly athletic dunks. The four Bruins steals summarized their inability to turn the Gators over when it was most urgent. Although Florida moved swiftly, the Gators were methodical as they broke the press with their big men and who still found a way to position themselves in the post to convert in the paint.

The Gators were solid in all aspects including blocks (10), free throws (75 percent), assists (21), and turnovers (4). The Gators, who were predicted to be the fifth best team in the Southeastern Athletic Conference (SEC), ended the season on an 11-game win streak and with a national championship.