This time, no early out, as Gators win in a rout

Florida 82 Wisconsin-Milwaukee 60

Minneapolis regional

Ncaa Tournament

March 19, 2006|By DAVE CURTIS | DAVE CURTIS,ORLANDO SENTINEL

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- In the final minute, Florida coach Billy Donovan decided to pull Adrian Moss, his team's lone senior.

Moss jogged off the court, slapped hands with replacement Walter Hodge, then greeted Donovan with an embrace.

"I told you you'd finally get to one," Donovan said, then slapped Moss on the backside.

After four first-weekend NCAA tournament exits for Moss, and five for the Florida program, the Gators advanced back to the Sweet 16 by squashing upstart Wisconsin-Milwaukee, 82-60, yesterday at Veterans Memorial Arena.

Florida (29-6) next plays Friday night in the Minneapolis Regional semifinals at the Metrodome. The Gators, seeded third, will face the winner of this afternoon's game between No. 2 seed Ohio State and No. 7 seed Georgetown.

The rout ended the questions about why the Gators can't win their way to the tournament's second weekend. And it started a new thought, one about why the Gators can't take this run one weekend farther than that.

"For real, to be honest, I feel like we can get to the Final Four," Florida forward Corey Brewer said. "I said that at the beginning of the season, and everyone was looking at us like we were stupid."

The Gators shot 54 percent from the field and held the 11th-seeded Panthers (22-9) to 36 percent. They grabbed eight more rebounds than their opponents and limited themselves to 10 turnovers.

Brewer led the charge, scoring 23 points in 23 minutes despite foul trouble and a fall on his head midway through the first half.

In addition to Brewer, Florida found more success in the post, with Al Horford managing 13 points around his own foul trouble. Even Moss, fourth on the low-post depth chart, chipped in with a team-high nine rebounds.

"We just met an opponent that was bigger than us," Panthers coach Rob Jeter said. "We tried to match their size. We tried, but we just couldn't."

Nor could the Panthers match Florida center Joakim Noah. The 7-footer contributed 17 points, seven rebounds, six assists and four blocks.

Dave Curtis writes for the Orlando Sentinel.

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