April 4, 2006
Florida Wins National Championship
UCLA No Match in One-Sided Affair
Florida and UCLA went into Monday night’s title game as
arguably the most balanced teams in the field of 65. What should have been a
close affair was one-sided for the majority of the contest, with Florida
dominating play on both ends of the floor. The 73-57 win gives the Gators
their first ever national title, and the Bruins their second defeat ever in
a national final. Ironically, UCLA lost the 1980 final to Louisville, which
was also played in Indianapolis. Forward Joakim Noah, who set a championship
game record with six blocks, was named the Most Outstanding Player of the
Final Four. A year after being “led” by stars with me-first attitudes, the
“’04 Boys” and their teammates won a national title.
Gators handle the UCLA defense with ease.
Most of the talk concerning defense in this game was the
fact that UCLA had held their last two opponents to 45 points apiece, and
only one team (Gonzaga) scored more than sixty points during the Bruins’
twelve-game winning streak. This should make the way in which Florida ran
their offense all the more impressive. Florida racked up twenty-one assists
on twenty-six shots while committing only six turnovers for the night. Point
guard Taurean Green led the Gators with eight assists to only one turnover.
The daggers, as with their semifinal win over George Mason on Saturday, came
early for Florida in the form of three pointers. Two came from Lee Humphrey,
and one from Corey Brewer, the last of which put the Gators up by eighteen
with 16:04 remaining. UCLA made an attempt to get back into the game,
getting as close as twelve, but their press couldn’t re-create the magic of
their comeback in the Sweet 16 against Gonzaga. Florida, using their guards
as well as big men Noah and Al Horford, repeatedly shredded the Bruin
pressure for dunk after dunk.
As for defense, Florida shut down Arron Afflalo and
Luc Richard Mbah a Moute.
The job that Corey Brewer did on Afflalo was something to
behold. Afflalo did not score a point in the first half, and finished with
ten points on 3-for-10 shooting. The 6-8 Brewer had quickness and length,
something that Afflalo had rarely encountered throughout the course of the
season. As for Mbah a Moute, he grabbed ten rebounds, but also did not score
in the first half. He finished with nine points for the game. The most
telling stat in this one: UCLA point guard Jordan Farmar took twenty-one
shots; the next closest Bruin only put up ten (Afflalo and Ryan Hollins). On
the other side, only one Gator (Brewer) took more than ten shots. This is a
testament to the brand of defense that Florida employed, something
overshadowed the last two days.
Noah and Horford handle UCLA’s four big men…but they
had some help too.
It’s easy to focus on the efforts of Florida’s two
starting big men, but tonight they had some additional help off the bench.
Senior Adrian Moss scored nine points on the night, including seven in the
first half to help get the Gators into the locker room with a 36-25 lead.
And junior Chris Richard added six points to the cause, as well as some
extra rest for the two stars. The Gator four: 45 points, 22 rebounds, and
nine blocks. The UCLA four (Mbah a Moute, Hollins, Alfred Aboya, and Lorenzo
Mata): 20 points, 28 rebounds, and one block. Even though they out-rebounded
the Gators, the point difference was too much to make, especially with
Afflalo and Cedric Bozeman having quiet nights.