Florida Wins 2006 NCAA Championship
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.