UCLA Downed By Florida, 76-66.
March 31, 2007
ATLANTA (AP) - Billyball lives on for at least one more game at Florida. After what felt like a Final Four instant replay, UCLA has certainly had its fill.
The Gators and their in-demand coach, Billy Donovan, moved one win away from a second straight national championship Saturday night, defeating the Bruins 76-66 behind 19 points from Corey Brewer, 16 from Chris Richard and 14 more from Lee Humphrey.
Donovan got the best of Ben Howland and Florida got the best of UCLA for the second straight year at the Final Four, adding this semifinal win to a 73-57 rout in last year's title game.
This victory for the Gators (34-5) set up another sort of rematch. They'll play Ohio State on Monday in the final, hoping for the same kind of result as their 27-point victory in the championship football game earlier this year.
The football coaches, OSU's Jim Tressel and Florida's Urban Meyer, were on the sidelines for this one, too, but only as spectators. The real stars were Brewer, Humphrey (three 3-pointers in the second half), Joakim Noah and, of course, Donovan, who the Gator faithful hope will rebuff a possible offer from Kentucky come season's end to keep building on the small dynasty he's created in Gainesville.
That drama will have to wait at least a couple more days, thanks to a wear-'em-down kind of effort that looked pretty much like what the Gators did to the Bruins last year.
The entire starting lineup came back for a repeat and with one more win, Florida will become the first team to go back-to-back since Duke in 1992 and the first ever to do it with the same starting five.