Game analysis of UCLA-Florida

Updated: April 1, 2007, 2:13 AM ET
By Mark Schlabach | ESPN.com

ATLANTA -- ESPN.com writer Mark Schlabach provides instant analysis from the Final Four's second semifinal between UCLA and Florida. Here's how the Gators won 76-66:

GAME ANALYSIS

Doug Gottlieb's Analysis
UCLA played 10 minutes of unbelievable defense, but only scored six points in those first 10 minutes while Florida struggled mightily. When Corey Brewer broke the invisible seal on the rim to get the Gators offense going, UCLA had not created enough seperation to make the Gators truly play catch up.

Just like last year, UCLA was only really effective when it turned Florida over off of its double teams and just like last year Florida's spacing, timely shooting, and quality interior passing proved lethal to UCLA.

Brewer made a lot of money tonight. He's such a long body and heady defender that the pro scouts had him as a first-round pick in last year's mock draft. What was impressive against UCLA was not just his shooting, but how much smoother his shot looks and how well he passes while curling off of a screen.

UCLA will be dramatically improved next year offensively with Kevin Love inside, but Aaron Afflalo's decision on whether to enter the draft is the tipping point as to whether the Bruins could in fact get back to the Final Four.

HOW THE GAME WAS WON: After failing to deliver what might have been a knockout punch to UCLA late in the first half, the Gators delivered a flurry of blows early in the second. Leading 29-23 at the half, the Gators made four 3-pointers in the first 6 minutes, 40 seconds of the second half, including three by senior guard Lee Humphrey. His third 3-pointer put Florida ahead 47-30 with 13:20 to go. The Bruins never got closer than 10 points the rest of the way.

HOW THE GAME REALLY WAS WON: Along with accurate perimeter shooting from Humphrey and junior Corey Brewer, the Gators really flexed their muscle in the post. Although juniors Al Horford and Joakim Noah combined to score only 17 points, they did a great job of passing the basketball back out to the perimeter for open jumpers. The Gators relied too much on the 3-pointer early in the game -- their first seven shots were 3-pointers and didn't attempt a two-pointer in the opening seven minutes. But they did a better job of attacking the basket in the second half, and got a stellar performance from senior forward Chris Richard, who scored 16 points on 7-for-7 shooting.

PLAYER OF THE GAME: Brewer was the best player on the floor in the first half and finished with 19 points on 5-for-7 shooting, including 4-for-5 on 3-pointers. He is long and athletic and helped force UCLA's Arron Afflalo into one of his worst nights of the season.

BEST NBA AUDITION: Brewer leaped high -- really, really high -- to block Bruins point guard Darren Collison's layup with about 11½ minutes to play. Brewer was so high he might have set a quarter on top of the backboard.

STAT OF THE GAME: Go figure. When UCLA upset No. 1 seed Kansas 68-55 in the finals of the West Regional last Saturday, the Bruins committed 25 turnovers and won by 13. They had only three turnovers against Florida and lost by 10.

STAT OF THE GAME II: Horford and Noah weren't looking to shoot very much against UCLA, but the junior forwards dominated the boards. Horford had 17 rebounds and Noah had 11.

BOX SCORE LINE OF THE GAME: Afflalo, UCLA's All-America guard, finished the game with 17 points, but it might have been the weakest 17-point performance in Final Four history. Afflalo quickly picked up three fouls and played only five minutes in the first half. He didn't score his first basket until making a 3-pointer with 6:17 left. Afflalo shot 5-for-14, including 3-for-9 on 3-pointers, and fouled out with 20.2 seconds to go.

FIRST-HALF ANALYSIS
BIG EARLY STORY LINE: Massive foul trouble for UCLA. Arron Afflalo picked up three and was gone within eight minutes or so. Both inside starters (Luc Richard Mbah a Moute and Lorenzo Mata) also picked up two fairly quickly, leaving the Bruins to play guys like James Keefe and Michael Roll for very extended minutes.

BIG MISSED OPPORTUNITY I: UCLA held Florida to only two points for the first seven minutes or so, but only led 6-2.

WEIRD TREND OF THE HALF: Florida's first seven shots were from 3-point range (making only one) as UCLA double-teamed in the post with a vengeance. That shifted as the half wore on, as Florida made better decisions out of the post and UCLA's foul trouble made double-teaming riskier.

SMART PLAY OF THE HALF: Out of a timeout, Corey Brewer went right at Afflalo off the dribble and drew the third foul at the 11:26 mark.

PLAYER OF THE HALF: Florida's Brewer scored 15 points, including three 3s and a taunt of the UCLA bench after the last one.

BIG STEP-UP OF THE HALF: UCLA's Josh Shipp, who poured in 12 points, including six of UCLA's last seven baskets of the half, which kept the Bruins in it.

MISSED OPPORTUNITY II: Florida got extremely sloppy on offense in the final five minutes of the half, missing an opportunity to extend a 10-point lead and leaving the Gators up only six at halftime.

SMARTEST MAN ON THE COURT: UCLA's juggler, who's very good in his own right, but clearly only "joined" the cheerleading squad to be able to perform three feet from the dancers.

Mark Schlabach covers college football and basketball for ESPN.com. He can be reached at schlabachma@yahoo.com.

Mark Schlabach | email

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