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Late surge helps Florida avoid upset

Dec 31, 2006 - 8:17 AM SUNRISE, Florida (Ticker) -- Florida went from avoiding a letdown to barely averting a stunning upset.

Corey Brewer scored 19 points and third-ranked Florida held Alabama-Birmingham without a field goal for the final four minutes to post a 75-70 victory in the Orange Bowl Classic.

The Gators (12-2), who wiped out Ohio State in a much-hyped game last Saturday, were on their heels throughout against the Blazers, who jumped to a 16-5 lead and also led by 11 points in the second half.

It was the biggest deficit for Florida this season.

"I was really proud of our guys," Gators Billy Donovan told the Orlando Sentinel. "I think our guys showed great toughness to find a way to win."

After falling behind by a point, UAB (8-6) regrouped and took a 67-64 lead with 4:10 left on a layup by Wen Mubuku, who paced his team with 20 points. That proved to be the last time the Blazers scored from the field.

Brewer hit a pair of free throws and Taurean Green scored four straight points in a 6-0 run to put Florida ahead to stay, 72-69, with 1:10 to play. Green added two more free throws with 15 seconds left to complete the scoring.

"Nobody's good enough to turn it on and turn it off," Brewer said. "If we don't correct the problem, teams will continue to expose us."

Green scored 18 points for the Gators, who made 22-of-26 free throws - including 11-of-11 from Brewer and Green.

UAB shot 50 percent (16-of-32) to take a 40-33 halftime lead behind 12 points apiece from Mubuke and Paul Delaney, who scored 17 points.

"We're not winning pretty, but we're winning," said center Joakim Noah, who had a double-double with 13 points and 13 rebounds. "I'm not going to whine and moan when we're winning."