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Saturday April 1, 2000Men's Hoops Beats UNC, 71-59 to Reach Championship

Indianapolis, IN (photo-Jeb Jacobsohn/ALLSPORT)

The University of Florida men's basketball team came back from a six-point deficit and defeated North Carolina 71-59 to advance to the NCAA championship game for the first time in school history. The Gators will play Michigan State Monday night in Indianapolis for the title.

Florida began the game with an 18-3 run, but North Carolina rallied to trim the Gators lead to just three at the half, 37-34.

The Tar Heels moved out to a 48-42 second half lead when the Gators suddenly caught fire behind backup point guard Brett Nelson who made a couple of baskets and assisted on two by Udonis Haslem to put Florida back in front 58-53.

Coach Billy Donovan said that was the turning point in the game. "We had a couple of steals, we had a ten second call and Brett came off the pick and roll and knocked down the shots", said Donovan, "and that really made the game move alot faster."

Nelson finished with a team-high 13 points. Mike Miller (pictured left), struggled with his outside shot, but still managed to score ten points. The Gators shot just 39 percent from the floor. Miller said they made their shots when they counted. "Just in those runs we made some shots. We didn't make a whole lot of shots, but on those runs, the critical runs, we made shots." The Gators closed the game with a 29-11 run and is the first fifth seed in NCAA history to advance to the championship game.

Center Brendan Haywood led Carolina with 20 points, but only four in the second half.

The Gators will play Michigan State Monday night at the RCA Dome. The tip-off is set for 9:18 ET.

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