Posted at 2:06 p.m., Sunday, March 18, 2007
Defending champion Florida tops Purdue in NCAA play
By Mark Long
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 today in the second round of the NCAA tournament.
''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 consecutive postseason win.
''We knew we had to make plays down the stretch to win,'' said Brewer, who finished with 17 points and eight boards. ''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.''
''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. David Teague and Chris Kramer added 14 each.