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Thursday March 16, 2006Humphrey, Noah Lead Gators Into NCAA Tournament Second Round


Junior Lee Humphrey finished with a career-high six three points and added 20 points, while sophomore Joakim Noah added 16 points, eight rebounds, seven assists, five blocks and three steals as the No. 3 seed University of Florida mens basketball team advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament with a 76-50 victory over No. 14 seed South Alabama on Thursday at Veterans Memorial Arena


The Gators (28-6) will next play No. 11 seed Wisconsin-Milwaukee, which upset No. 6 seed Oklahoma in the first game of the day, on Saturday at 3:20 p.m. for the right to advance to the regional semifinals.


Sophomore Al Horford chimed in with a double-double with 14 points and 13 rebounds as the Gators improved to 11-7 in NCAA Tournament games under Billy Donovan.


The Gators ended the game with seven blocked shots, which boosted UFs season total to 170 a school single-season record. Noah also broke the Gator NCAA Tournament record with five blocks in the contest.


Florida out-rebounded the Jaguars 39-31, while holding South Alabama (24-7) to just 19-of-55 shooting (34.5 percent).


Coming out of the break, the Jaguars pulled within six after a three-pointer at 34-28, but the Gators responded by scoring 14 of the next 20 points in moving on top 48-34 with 11:44 to play. Four different players notched points during the run with Noah and Horford providing four points each, while Taurean Green and Humphrey each sank a trey.


South Alabama came within 12 with 9:07 remaining, but the Gators scored eight points in the next 1:02 of action with Humphrey canning a pair of three pointers as UF moved ahead 60-40 with 8:05 left to play.


The Jaguars came as close as 15 at 62-47 with 7:12 remaining, but the Gators scored 10 straight points to put the game away in moving ahead 72-47 with 3:50 left. Chris Richard notched a pair of buckets, while Noah added four points in the stretch.


The first half was a close affair until the Gators went on a 10-0 run in boosting a one-point lead to 11 at 29-18 with 3:01 left in the half. After a bucket by South Alabama cut Floridas advantage to 19-18 with 5:49 left, Noah sparked the Gator run with a layup at the 5:01 mark.


Corey Brewer than sank back-to-back threes before Horford closed out the run with a pair from the charity stripe to make it 29-18. Florida again led by 11 in the first half after Noahs third dunk of the opening 20 minutes, but Jaguars scored the final five points to cut UFs lead to 31-25 at the break.


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