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Saturday December 30, 2006No. 3 Florida Rallies to Defeat Alabama-Birmingham, 75-70

SUNRISE, Fla.

No. 3 Florida trailed for most of the game but went 7-of-8 from the free throw line over the final 2:11 and rallied past Alabama-Birmingham 75-70 on Saturday night in the Orange Bowl Classic.

 

Taurean Green (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) put the Gators (12-2) ahead to stay with 1:32 left when he made two free throws for a 70-69 lead - only their second of the game.

 

A steal and layup by Green increased the margin to three, and Al Horford (Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic) made one free throw and Corey Brewer (Portland, Tenn.) added two to close out the Gators' fifth-consecutive win.

 

The Blazers (8-6) led by 11 points in both halves but missed their final six shots from the field.

 

Brewer scored 19 points for Florida, which made 22 of 26 free throws, while Green added 18 points and Joakim Noah (New York, N.Y.) had 13 points, 13 rebounds and four blocked shots.

 

The game was the Gators' first since their 86-60 victory over Ohio State last Saturday.

 

Wen Mukubu scored 20 points and Paul Delaney III added 17 for the Blazers. They shot 50 percent in the first half, including 6-for-11 from 3-point range, but shot only 31 percent in the second half.

 

UAB led 44-33 when the Gators began their comeback. Noah scored on a Globetrotter-style breakaway dunk, passing the ball from one hand to the other behind his back before he shot, to make it 46-42.

 

Lee Humphrey's (Maryville, Tenn.) only points, a 3-pointer, cut the deficit to 50-47. Another 3 by Green pulled the Gators even at 55, and Chris Richard's (Lakeland, Fla.) layup gave Florida its first lead, 59-58 with 7:43 left.

 

The Gators made only one field goal in their first 10 possessions, fell behind 16-5 and trailed the rest of the first half. Brewer banked in an off-balance 3-pointer with five seconds left in the first half to cut the deficit to 40-33.

 

Nebraska won the first game of the doubleheader, beating Miami 82-67. The games at the BankAtlantic Center drew a record crowd of 15,709, most of them cheering for the Gators.

 

Florida will return home to the Stephen C. O’Connell Center for its final tune-up before conference action begins Tuesday evening with a 6 p.m. contest against Liberty.

 

-UF-

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