Purdue can't contain `monster'

Horford starts late Gators run to finally put Boilermakers away

Florida 74 Purdue 67

Midwest Regional

Ncaa Tournament

March 19, 2007|By Dave Curtis | Dave Curtis,ORLANDO SENTINEL

NEW ORLEANS -- For 36 minutes yesterday, defending champion Florida and feisty Purdue played to a near-stalemate. In the final four minutes, the Gators threw the ball to forward Al Horford, the one man Purdue struggled to match.

Horford, the best player on No. 1 seed Florida, scored six of his 17 points in the game's final 3:13 to help the Gators put away No. 9 seed Purdue, 74-67, in a second-round game.

"Al is a monster," teammate Joakim Noah said. "He's really been leading us. Al's been playing unbelievable basketball.

Florida advances in the Midwest Regional to Friday's semifinals in St. Louis, where it will meet fifth seed Butler. Third seed Oregon and seventh seed Nevada-Las Vegas will meet in the other regional semifinal.

Purdue played just about how it wanted to against the Gators - slowing down the tempo, rebounding well with a smaller lineup and keeping the game close much of the way.

But the top-seeded Gators took advantage of their tournament experience. They never panicked and made several clutch shots down the stretch to advance to the round of 16.

Purdue showed more hustle early and rode its quicker guards and big man Carl Landry to a seven-point first-half lead.

The Gators (31-5) came back and took a 31-29 lead to halftime. They spent much of the second half trying to shake Purdue, which won just nine games a year ago. The Boilermakers led with seven minutes left to play, and a Chris Lutz layup with 3:34 remaining brought his team within 60-58.

"It was toe-to-toe with those guys," Boilermakers guard David Teague said. "We took their best blows, and they took ours."

Horford, though, would deliver the biggest blows of all. He followed Lutz's hoop with a baby hook shot, starting a 10-3 spurt he capped with a dunk with 36 seconds remaining.

"At the end, it was just about getting in good position," Horford said, "and trying to score baskets for the team."

He finished with 17 points and nine rebounds, and Corey Brewer had 17 points and eight rebounds. They combined to make all 11 of their free throws, helping Florida shoot 27-for-31 for the game. Taurean Green was 6-for-6 from the line for the Gators.

Landry paced Purdue with 18 points and 10 rebounds, and Teague and Chris Kramer had 14 points apiece. The Boilermakers (22-12) made seven more field goals than Florida but attempted just 13 free throws, hitting only six.

Dave Curtis writes for the Orlando Sentinel.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

PURDUE-Watt 1-4 0-2 2, Landry 8-14 2-5 18, Teague 6-15 0-0 14, Kramer 6-12 0-0 14, Grant 2-3 0-0 5, Lutz 1-2 0-0 2, Crump 3-6 3-4 9, Green 1-3 1-2 3, Uchendu 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 28-59 6-13 67. FLORIDA-Brewer 4-9 8-8 17, Noah 3-5 3-4 9, Horford 7-9 3-3 17, Green 3-9 6-6 14, Humphrey 2-6 0-0 6, Hodge 0-1 1-4 1, Werner 0-0 0-0 0, Richard 2-2 4-4 8, Speights 0-1 2-2 2. Totals 21-42 27-31 74. Halftime-Purdue, 31-29. 3-point goals-Purdue 5-17 (Kramer 2-4, Teague 2-7, Grant 1-1, Watt 0-1, Crump 0-1, Lutz 0-1, Green 0-2), Florida 5-18 (Humphrey 2-6, Green 2-8, Brewer 1-4). Fouled out-None. Rebounds-Purdue 28 (Landry 10), Florida 31 (Horford, Noah 9). Assists-Purdue 15 (Landry 4), Florida 11 (Brewer, Green, Hodge, Humphrey, Noah 2). Total fouls-Purdue 23, Florida 14. A-NA.

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