April 3, 2006

Gators dominate lane, win first championship

INDIANAPOLIS - Lorenzo Mata missed the layup, but managed to get the ball back. The UCLA center went up again with a shot, only to have it swatted away from behind by Chris Richard.

Adrian Moss grabbed the ball for Florida and was hacked by Mata, a pure frustration foul if there ever was one.

That sequence in the first half epitomized the Gators' dominance in the lane, a showtime display of resounding dunks, jaw-dropping blocks and pure power that carried Florida to 73-57 victory over UCLA and the school's first national championship Monday night.

Joakim Noah & Co. were simply unstoppable.

Noah, the tennis star's son, didn't need a racket to whip up on the Bruins. By halftime, he already had broken the championship game record with five blocks. He finished with six, part of an MVP performance that included 16 points, nine rebounds, three assists and one steal.

But Noah had plenty of help from Florida's other big men. Center Al Horford had 14 points, seven rebounds, three assists and two blocks. The other forward, Corey Brewer, chipped in with 11 points, seven rebounds, four assists, three steals and a block.

Off the bench, Adrian Moss scored nine points - all in the tone-setting first half - and grabbed six rebounds. Not bad for a little-used senior who had only 10 points in his previous nine games. Richard had six points, three rebounds and that big block on Mata, which led to the UCLA sophomore's third foul.

Mata was effectively done before he ever got started. The same could be said of UCLA's other big men.

Mata, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute and Ryan Hollins - the trio that did such a brilliant job in shutting down LSU's Glen ''Big Baby'' Davis in the semifinals - looked as though they were wearing concrete sneakers against the Gators.

They didn't do much at the offensive end, either, shooting a collective 8-of-23 from the field for 18 points.


Florida finished things off with a flourish, scoring seven of its last eight baskets on dunks. All the Bruins could do was watch.


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