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Florida's Corey Brewer (2) drives by UCLA's Luc Richard Mbah a Moute (23).
AP photo by Gerry Broome
Florida's Corey Brewer (2) drives by UCLA's Luc Richard Mbah a Moute (23).

One more step
After dispatching UCLA, Florida stands one win from crown

By Eddie Pells
Associated Press Writer

ATLANTA — Billyball lives on for at least one more game at Florida. After what felt like a Final Four instant replay, UCLA has certainly had its fill.

The Gators and their in-demand coach, Billy Donovan, moved one win away from a second straight national title Saturday night, defeating the Bruins 76-66 behind 19 points from Corey Brewer, 16 from Chris Richard and 14 more from Lee Humphrey.

Florida got the best of UCLA for the second straight year at the Final Four, adding this semifinal win to a 73-57 rout in last year’s title game.

This victory for the Gators (34-5) set up another sort of rematch. They’ll play Ohio State on Monday in the final, hoping for the same kind of result as their 27-point victory in the championship football game earlier this year.

The football coaches, OSU’s Jim Tressel and Florida’s Urban Meyer, were on the sidelines for this one, too, but only as spectators. The real stars were Brewer, Humphrey (three 3-pointers in the second half), Joakim Noah and, of course, Donovan, who the Gator faithful hope will rebuff a possible offer from Kentucky come season’s end to keep building on the small dynasty he’s created in Gainesville.

That drama will have to wait at least a couple more days, thanks to a wear-’em-down kind of effort that looked pretty much like what the Gators did to the Bruins last year. The entire starting lineup came back for a repeat and with one more win, Florida will become the first team to go back-to-back since Duke in 1992 and the first ever to do it with the same starting five.

UCLA (30-6), still stuck on 11 titles, thought it brought a more experienced, better team to Atlanta, and that might have been true. But Bruins guard Arron Afflalo sat on the bench for almost the entire first half with foul trouble and center Lorenzo Mata joined him.

That took a bite out of UCLA’s early tenacious defensive effort, and when Brewer started going off — swishing two 3-pointers in consecutive trips down the floor — the Gators were running to a 26-16 lead and UCLA never much threatened after that.

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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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