March 18, 2006
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) - Florida players insisted that the program's recent history in the NCAA tournament meant nothing to them.
It means a lot more now.
Corey Brewer scored 23 points, Joakim Noah added 17 and the third-seeded Gators routed 11th-seeded Wisconsin-Milwaukee 82-60 Saturday in the second round of the NCAA tournament.
Florida advanced to the semifinals of the Minneapolis Regional, the first time the team has escaped the opening weekend of the tourney since 2000.
The last time the Gators (29-6) advanced to the round of 16, they went to the championship game before losing to Michigan State.
They might be poised for another run.
Led by Brewer, Noah, Al Horford and Taurean Green - all sophomores and roommates back in Gainesville - Florida led from its first possession and dominated much of the game.
The Gators led by 13 in the first half and opened up a 15-point advantage midway through the second half. It was arguably the best coach Billy Donovan's team has played all season. Of course, it came in front of a partisan crowd at Veterans Memorial Arena, about 75 miles from the school's campus.
Brewer scored almost at will on curl routes into the paint and was 5-of-8 from 3-point range. Not bad for a guy who woozily left the court in the first half.
Noah was impressive again, dominating inside and making each of his teammates better. He finished with seven rebounds, six assists and four blocks.
Horford, saddled with foul trouble most of the first half, had several touch shots down low and was 6-of-8 from the field.
Green struggled with his shooting again, but made up for it by directing the offense to near perfection. He had six assists and three turnovers.
Florida got other help, too.
Adrian Moss, the team's lone senior, had six points and nine rebounds in 19 minutes. Lee Humphrey had an early 3-pointer that helped set the tone and played stellar defense on Boo Davis.
Davis finished with 10 points on 3-of-12 shooting. Wisconsin-Milwaukee's leading scorer, Joah Tucker, had nine points on 4-of-14 shooting.
Adrian Tigert carried the Panthers (22-9) most of the way. He had 27 points on 11-of-13 shooting and eight rebounds.
Florida got Tucker into foul trouble in the first half. Tucker, who missed five of his first six shots, picked up his second foul midway through the first half and played just 11 minutes.
Tigert picked up the slack, scoring 10 points before joining Tucker on the bench with two fouls.
Brewer and Noah did most of the early damage for the Gators. Brewer hit two shots from beyond the arc and made a short, spinning jumper. But he picked up his second foul on a charge with 11:20 play and left the game. His head appeared to hit the floor, and he was helped to the bench.
He returned after the break and picked up where he left off, hitting a 3-pointer and a jumper in the lane to push Florida's lead to 41-31.