Fifth seeded Florida closed with a 13-0 run and upset top-ranked and
number-one seeded Duke 87-78 in an East Regional semifinal game at the
Carrier Dome in Syracuse Friday night. Freshman guard Brett Nelson (pictured left, photo Al Bello-ALLSPORT) scored 15 points off the bench to pace Florida to one of the greatest victories in school history.
"Duke is an outstanding team," said Gator coach Billy Donovan. "For our
team to beat them, being the number-one ranked team in the country, the
number one seed, it was a great victory."
Florida led 40-33 at the half, but Duke came out strong to open the second
half, scoring seven straight points to tie the game at 40-40. Trailing 78-
74 the Gators trimmed the lead to one on Teddy Dupay's three-pointer.
Brent Wright put the Gators in front to stay 79-78 with 2:09 left in the
Mike Miller, who was held to just 10 points, made four consecutive free
throws down the stretch to give the Gators an 85-78 cushion. "Free throws
are going to be the difference from now on," said Miller. "Games are going
to be close and they are going to put you on the line in pressure
situations. I'm just glad I made a couple there."
Donovan believes going to a zone defense in the final minutes impacted the
game. "I had hoped that we would fatigue them enough, they're such a good
three-point shooting team, that they wouldn't shoot the ball partiularly
well, and we got them to take some long shots. The zone, for us, certainly
created and helped us down the stretch."
Udonis Haslem was a presence inside with 13 points and eight rebounds.
Dupay scored 12 points while Wright joined Miller with 10 points. The Gators forced Duke into 22 turnovers.
Florida moves on to the East Regional finals against third seed Oklahoma State Sunday afternoon at 5 p.m. Eastern Time.