Dominant start advances Florida into SEC semisMar 10, 2007 - 7:30 AM ATLANTA (Ticker) -- It did not take long for Joakim Noah and Florida to show the rest of the Southeastern Conference that they are focused.
Noah scored five of his seven points in an decisive game-starting run as the sixth-ranked Gators built an impressive lead before cruising to a 74-57 victory over Georgia in the quarterfinals of the SEC tournament.
Much has been made about the mindset of defending national champion Florida (27-5) recently after it absorbed three losses in a four-game stretch in February.
"We played five out of seven games on the road," Florida coach Billy Donovan said. "Winning and losing gets overdramatized. We lost to some good teams.
"We're excited of the opportunity to move forward."
The two-time defending champion in this tournament, the Gators showed that they are very interested in adding to their trophy case after opening with a 17-0 run within the first five-plus minutes of the game.
"We just want to be the best we can be," Florida forward Corey Brewer said. "That's our personal theme. If we can be the best we can be we'll make another run."
"Obviously this game was so much about the beginning of the game and how far we fell behind from the outset," Georgia coach Dennis Felton said. "We had some poor turnovers early on that led to some easy offense from Florida. When we were not turning it over, we had some excellent shots but they weren't falling down."
Winning its seventh straight SEC tournament game, Florida advanced to face Mississippi in Saturday's semifinals. The Rebels claimed an 80-60 victory over Louisiana State.
The Most Outstanding Player of the NCAA Tournament last year, Noah had a big hand in that dominant start, hitting a jumper to open the scoring and adding a three-point play for an 11-0 advantage with 16:37 remaining.
Sharpshooter Lee Humphrey hit a 3-pointer to push the lead to 14-0 and reserve guard Walter Hodge added a layup to cap the lopsided beginning with 14:56 left.
While Florida could do no wrong, Georgia (18-13) missed its first 12 shots and committed five turnovers.
"It came out from our defense," Gators point guard Taurean Green said. "We pressed them, they turned it over and we got some easy baskets."
"I was really proud how the guys came out," Donovan said. "We got out to a great start, we were able to get turnovers with our press. We shut Georgia down in the first half."
Brewer had eight of his 15 points in the first half as the Gators went on to hold a 35-14 advantage at the break.
Taurean Green scored 19 points and Al Horford finished with 15 and nine rebounds for Florida, which shot 54 percent (23-of-43) in beating Georgia for the seventh straight time.
Noah finished 3-of-4 from the field and grabbed seven rebounds for the Gators, who finished with 16 points off 14 turnovers by the Bulldogs.
Takais Brown had 12 points for Georgia, which lost for the third time in its last four games.
Billy Humphrey added 10 points for the Bulldogs, who actually outplayed the Gators in the second half, holding a 43-39 advantage in points while shooting 50 percent (17-of-34) from the field.
"We proved we could play with those guys in the second half," said Georgia guard Corey Butler, who scored all nine of his points after intermission. "Unfortunately, we couldn't do that in the first."
- SEC TOURNAMENT
AT ATLANTA GA
NCAA BB SEC TOURNAMENT
FINAL 1ST 2ND TOTAL
--- --- -----
GEORGIA 14 43 57
FLORIDA (6) 35 39 74 FINAL
Mar 9 9:40 PM
- SEC TOURNAMENT
AT ATLANTA GA
NCAA BB GEORGIA 14
FLORIDA (6) 35 HALFTIME
Mar 9 8:24 PM
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