for this game

Early run, 3-pointers lead Florida to repeat championship

Apr 3, 2007 - 5:36 AM ATLANTA (Ticker) -- Even with a foul-free Greg Oden, Ohio State could not stop Florida's march toward history.

Taurean Green scored 11 of his 16 points in the first half as Florida became just the third team in the last 34 years to repeat as national champions with an 84-75 victory over Ohio State.

Lee Humphrey scored 14 points and Corey Brewer added 13 as the Gators (35-5) who made 10-of-18 3-pointers en route to becoming the first team to win back-to-back titles for the first time since Duke in 1991 and 1992.

"I'm so proud of my guys," Florida coach Billy Donovan said. "I think this team should go down as one of the best teams in college basketball history. Not as the most talented and not on style points. But because they encompassed what the word 'team' means. They did it the first year with no expectations, then they did it again with all the expectations."

Prior to the Blue Devils, the previous team to win consecutive titles was UCLA with its unparalleled streak from 1967-73. Overall, the Gators are the seventh different school to win back-to-back titles.

"It feels great," said Brewer, who was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player. "This is what we came back to school for. This is what we are all about, the University of Florida and winning championships. And we're going to celebrate."

Although the margin of victory was not as large as the 86-60 decision that Florida had over Ohio State (35-4) back on December 23, the Gators once again opened the contest with a decisive run.

In the previous meeting, the two teams were knotted at 40-40 with 17:05 remaining before Green's seven points sparked a 20-5 run that led to the rout.

After a 3-pointer by Ivan Harris cut the Buckeyes' deficit to 24-22 with 5:39 left to play in the first half, the Gators put together a run the proved too much to overcome.

With the freshman Oden staying out of foul trouble for a change, Florida turned its attack outside, as Green hit a pair of 3-pointers and Humphrey and Brewer both added one during a 16-5 run that gave it a 40-27 cushion 1:07 before the half.

While the Gators proved deadly from the arc, the Buckeyes were ice cold from deep, missing all four of their attempts during the spurt and finishing 4-of-23 for the game.

"It is frustrating," Ohio State guard Ron Lewis said about the team's poor shooting. "When you're trying to get back in the game, you're out there shooting, thinking and knowing it's about to fall for you, but it's not going in for you."

Florida's defense played a role in its opponent's poor shooting, continuing a trend in the national title game. Combined with the win over UCLA in Indianapolis last year, foes made just 18 percent (7-of-40) of its 3-pointers in the final college basketball game of the season.

Although a thunderous dunk by Oden closed the scoring in the first half, Florida led 40-29 at intermission and improved to 28-0 this season when leading at halftime.

"It's not just that we couldn't make a three," said Oden, who finished with 25 points and 12 rebounds. "We couldn't get over the hump. We got that 11-point deficit in the first half, and we just couldn't get over it."

Ohio State, which was in search of its first national title since 1960, did open the second with a 7-2 run to close within 42-36. But it could not get closer as Florida made all the big shots.

"It was real deflating," said Lewis about the Gators' clutch shooting. "You try to make a run and they came back every time. It showed how much their veterans and their leaders came ready to play."

After a three-point play by reserve bigman Chris Richard put the Gators ahead, 61-47, with 8:59 left, the Buckeyes tried to charge back, going on a 13-5 run behind a jumper and three free throws by Oden.

Although the lead had been sliced to 66-60 with less than five minutes remaining, Green answered with a 3-pointer, igniting a 9-2 run.

"I feel like our guards made some huge shots at key moments," Florida forward Joakim Noah said. "Humpty (Humphrey) hit some really big threes. Taurean hit a big three. Corey was huge. It was just a team effort. Everybody came in there and contributed."

Ohio State got no closer than nine points thereafter.

Green finished 3-of-3 from the arc, Humphrey 4-of-7 and Brewer 3-of-8 from long range.

While Noah - last year's Most Outstanding Player - could not get in the offensive flow due to foul troubles guarding Oden, Al Horford complemented the outside attack, scoring 18 points and pulling down 12 rebounds.

Although Noah finished with eight points and three rebounds, the Gators held a 38-28 advantage in rebounding.

Playing his most minutes in 19 games with 38, Oden shot 10-of-15 from the field and blocked four shots. After being plagued with foul problems for the previous four games, his ability to stay on the court should have figured highly into the result of the game, but it really did not once Florida made its separation.

Instead, the key was the lack of support that the 7-1 center received, as early foul trouble by fellow classmate Mike Conley Jr. took him out of the contest until late. Conley did finish with 20 points, shooting 7-of-13 from the field.

"We pretty much got every and anything out of Greg tonight," Conley said. "He played a great game. He helped us offensively and defensively. But our team needed to play as well as he was tonight by the way Florida was playing. That was the key."

Overall, the Buckeyes shot 47 percent (30-of-64) en route to having their 22-game winning streak snapped.