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Brewer, Humphrey lead Florida into SEC final

Mar 11, 2007 - 3:28 AM ATLANTA (Ticker) -- It was not that hard for Corey Brewer and Florida to book their fourth consecutive appearance in the Southeastern Conference championship game.

Brewer scored a season-high 22 points to lead the sixth-ranked Gators to an 80-59 win over Mississippi in the tournament semifinals.

Florida (28-5) will try to secure a third straight title and a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament when it faces Arkansas in the title game on Sunday. It has won its last eight games in this event.

"It's a great accomplishment for our program, our school," Florida coach Billy Donovan said. "It's hard to get into a championship game. When you play at neutral sites, there's no home-court advantage.

"I think for us to go to four straight is a great accomplishment. The beauty of it is that anything that has happened the last three years has no bearing on tomorrow and the guys understand that."

A day after the Gators opened a 74-57 quarterfinal win over Georgia with a 17-0 start, Brewer scored five points as Florida took an early 13-2 lead.

"It was going to be a game of runs, and some of the runs helped us," Donovan said.

The Rebels would get as close as 15-11 on Clarence Sanders' 3-pointer with 10:43 to play in the first half, but the Gators were clearly the superior team.

Pulling ahead 37-22 at the half, Florida extended the lead to 72-48 on a 3-pointer by Lee Humphrey with 6:48 left in the game. Humphrey ended with 17 points, shooting 5-of-8 from the arc.

"We got beat by a superior program, obviously," Mississippi coach Andy Kennedy said. "I like Billy's team. We had our opportunities and we didn't take advantage of those.

"They have spurtability and an ability to score quickly. I think we had it to six or eight. We didn't finish out some plays at the basket. They built what was an insurmountable lead."

The 6-9 swingman Brewer played a major role in that big lead, scoring 12 of his points over the first 12 minutes following intermission.

"When I'm making outside shots, teams have to press up on me and I am able to make plays for the team, it helps out a lot," Brewer said. "We just share the basketball. If we just pass the basketball and keep moving we can get easy buckets.

"I felt we came out with a lot of energy and a lot of intensity. We have to do that if we want to win."

Al Horford finished with nine points and 13 rebounds for the Gators.

Sanders scored 21 points to lead Mississippi (20-12), which shot just 32 percent (21-of-66) from the floor.

Florida will now set its sights on Arkansas, a team that actually can rival its athleticism and size.

"I've always felt that Arkansas was one of the bigger, stronger, more athletic teams in this league, one of the more talented teams in this league," Donovan said. "They have one of the biggest most athletic front courts in the SEC. They're playing great as a basketball team. They're playing really, really well. They've had some great wins to close the season out."

The Gators posted a 77-72 home win in the only meeting with the Razorbacks on January 9.

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