Last year the Gators dominated the Bruins on their way to a national championship. Florida did it again for most of the contest on Saturday night. Now Florida is one game away from one from being able to lay claim as one of the best teams in the history of college basketball.
Florida dominated UCLA from start to (just about) finish on Saturday night en route to a 76-66 victory. The Bruins seemed to never come out of the gates against the defending champs and found themselves in trouble early. Florida’s victory leaves them one game away from becoming the first team to repeat as Division I national champions in basketball since 1991-92 when Duke accomplished the task. Florida would be the first team in history to win the national championship with all five starters returning.
UCLA never seemed to be able to find a rhythm offensively on Saturday night while Florida looked like a team destined to defend their crown. The Gators broke up a close contest by going on a 9-0 run in the first half. Meanwhile UCLA superstar and All-American Arron Afflalo found himself in foul trouble early. Afflalo collected his third foul with eleven minutes remaining in the first and was subsequently a non-factor throughout the first 30 minutes. Meanwhile Florida played steady basketball on their way to a six-point advantage at the half. In the second Florida pulled out to a 17-point lead. The Gators dominated on both sides of the ball for most of the half. With two minutes remaining UCLA pulled within ten as Afflalo tried his best to lead the Bruins toward a miracle comeback. There wasn’t enough time on the clock for UCLA, though, and the Gators can look ahead to a Monday night showdown against Ohio State.
Corey Brewer played yet another fantastic game, leading the Gators in scoring with 19 points while making four three-pointers out of five attempts. Lee Humphrey also made four from beyond the arc, scoring 14 points. Chris Richard scored 16 points coming off the bench. Joakim Noah, the emotional leader for the Gators, had eleven rebounds and eight points in the winning effort. As a team Florida shot over 53 percent from the field.
Forward Josh Shipp led the Bruins in scoring with 18 points. Arron Afflalo was in foul trouble throughout the contest, and although he ended the game with 17 points he was ineffective for most of the game. UCLA shot slightly over 39 percent from the field, not good enough against a team that is one game away from history.
Florida will play Ohio State on Monday in the national championship game. In December Florida dominated the Buckeyes in Gainesville, winning 86-60. UCLA ends their impressive season with an overall record of 30-6.