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Florida’s Al Horford (42) dunks against Purdue’s Carl Landry in the Gators’ 74-67 victory.
AP photo by Bill Haber
Florida’s Al Horford (42) dunks against Purdue’s Carl Landry in the Gators’ 74-67 victory.

Gators dunk another one
Defending champs beat plucky Purdue; Crump scores 9 for Boilermakers

By Mark Long
Associated Press Writer

NEW ORLEANS — Al Horford flexed his biceps and offered an imposing stare as he posed for television cameras.

Florida’s most physical player had reason to show off a little bit.

Horford had 17 points and nine rebounds and helped the defending national champions withstand a game effort by plucky Purdue in a 74-67 victory Sunday in the second round of the NCAA tournament. Decatur High graduate Tarrance Crump had nine points for Purdue.

“I guess they felt like they were going to make Al score one on one,” teammate Corey Brewer said. “They made a bad decision.”

Ninth-seeded Purdue played just about how it wanted 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.

Horford had three big buckets in the final minutes, and Brewer hit a spinning jumper and then made six consecutive free throws to seal Florida’s 14th straight postseason win.

“We knew we had to make plays down the stretch to win,” said Brewer, who finished with 17 points. “We couldn’t get frustrated because they were going to be physical; they were physical the whole game. We just took it upon ourselves and just made plays.”

Especially Horford.

“If I’m in a rhythm and I’m feeling comfortable, I want to get the ball and I want to make plays for the team,” he said.

The Gators (31-5), trying to become the first team to repeat as champions since Duke in 1992, advanced to play fifth-seeded Butler in the Midwest Regional semifinals Friday in St. Louis.

Carl Landry led Purdue (22-12) with 18 points and 10 rebounds.

“They just made big plays,” Purdue’s David Teague said. “They capitalized on a couple of turnovers and a couple of miscues ... and that is what champions do: they step up and make plays down the stretch. That was the difference in the ball game.”

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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