Today's games

Florida vs. George Mason

Men's Final Four

April 01, 2006|By ORLANDO SENTINEL

TIME, TV -- 6:07 p.m., chs. 13, 9

Records -- George Mason 27-7, Florida 31-6.

HOW THEY GOT HERE -- Florida won the Minneapolis Regional as the No. 3 seed, defeating No. 14 South Alabama, 76-50, No. 11 Wisconsin-Milwaukee, 82-60, No. 7 Georgetown, 57-53, and No. 1 Villanova, 75-62. George Mason won the Washington, D.C., Regional as the No. 11 seed, defeating No. 6 Michigan State, 75-65, No. 3 North Carolina, 65-60, No. 7 Wichita State, 63-55, and No. 1 Connecticut, 86-84, in OT.

ABOUT FLORIDA -- The Gators have received excellent play from their frontcourt. Joakim Noah has emerged as a big-time performer - scoring, rebounding, blocking shots, handling the ball. It's rare to see a guy this big (6 feet 11, 227 pounds) run the court this well. Al Horford is another low-post threat, and swingman Corey Brewer is a lockdown defender who can score on jumpers and drives to the basket. Point guard Taurean Green hasn't played all that well in the tournament, but it hasn't really mattered. If he gets his three-point stroke going, this team becomes hard to defend. Guard Lee Humphrey takes advantage of the passing skills of the big men by staying on the perimeter and getting open looks from three-point range. He's a half-step slow, but still an OK perimeter defender. Forward Chris Richard is a big body who is the only reserve who can be counted on to produce offensively; his bulk will be put to good use against George Mason's frontcourt. The Gators wouldn't mind forcing the pace. They also will do all they can to make sure George Mason center Jai Lewis has to expend a lot of energy on defense.

ABOUT GEORGE MASON -- The Patriots mowed down a Who's Who of college basketball's elite to get here, and it's doubtful they'll be awed by the bright lights of the Final Four. They're well-coached, solid defensively and highly efficient on offense. Lewis and Will Thomas lack great size (they're both 6-7), but they're solid on both ends of the court. Thomas, especially, can be a stellar rebounder, and he's a big reason GMU has won the rebounding battle in every NCAA game. The Pats out-rebounded UConn by three, so they're not going to be afraid of Florida's big men. Swingman Folarin Campbell is the Pats' best athlete, and he can score inside and outside. Senior guards Tony Skinn and Lamar Butler generally are steady and don't make a lot of mistakes. Butler is the Pats' biggest three-point threat, but Skinn isn't bad, either. Both guards are active perimeter defenders. One negative: George Mason struggles at times from the foul line, but it hasn't hurt them in the NCAAs. The Pats likely want a game in the high 60s, and they'll do everything they can to keep Florida from getting easy baskets in transition. Also, look for them to apply a lot of pressure on Green, who is the Gators' only legitimate ballhandler. A lack of depth is a concern, though.

KEY FLORIDA OFFENSIVE STATS -- 78.5 ppg (scoring margin of plus-14.7 per game), 50.4 field-goal percent, 39.0 percent for three-pointers, 74.1 percent on free throws, 35.9 rpg (plus-3.6 rebound margin), 16.8 apg, commit 14.6 turnovers a game.

KEY FLORIDA DEFENSIVE STATS -- 63.9 ppg, 39.9 field-goal percent, 32.3 percent for three-pointers,7.7 steals per game, 5.2 blocks per game, force 15.7 turnovers a game.

KEY GEORGE MASON OFFENSIVE STATS -- 69.7 ppg (scoring margin of plus-10.0 per game), 48.4 field-goal percent, 35.9 percent for three-pointers, 66.3 percent on free throws, 35.1 rpg (plus-2.5 rebound margin), 14.7 apg, commit 12.9 turnovers a game.

KEY GEORGE MASON DEFENSIVE STATS -- 59.7 ppg, 38.7 field-goal percent, 31.1 percent for three-pointers, 7.1 spg, 3.6 bpg, force 13.5 turnovers a game.

LSU vs. UCLA

TIME, TV -- 8:47 p.m., chs. 13, 9

Records -- LSU 27-8; UCLA 31-6

HOW THEY GOT HERE -- LSU won the Atlanta Regional as the No. 4 seed, defeating No. 13 Iona, 80-64, No. 12 Texas A&M, 58-57, No. 1 Duke, 62-54 and No. 2 Texas, 70-60, in OT. UCLA won the Atlanta Regional as the No. 2 seed, defeating No. 15 Belmont, 78-44, No. 10 Alabama, 62-59, No. 3 Gonzaga, 73-71, and No. 1 Memphis, 50-45.

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