NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Taurean Green spent most of the night
battling a stomach virus after Florida made to the Southeastern
Conference tournament semifinals.
Lucky for the Gators, Green recovered in plenty of time to give
them a chance to repeat as tourney champions.
Green scored eight of his 18 points on three straight
possessions late in the second half, and Florida (No. 14 ESPN/USA Today; No. 16 AP) downed
17th-ranked LSU 81-65 Saturday to advance to the title game for the
third straight year and sixth time overall.
"I was a little bit concerned just because he was throwing up,
and it was several times throughout the course of the night,"
Florida coach Billy Donovan said. "He didn't get very much
LSU led 64-59 when Green essentially sealed the victory within
the span of 35 seconds. He hit only his second 3 of the game with
4:55 left, LSU forward Glen Davis missed a jumper, and Green hit
another 3. He added a driving layup for a 72-59 lead.
"That was huge in the game," LSU junior Darnell Lazare said.
"We got in a hurry and panicked a little bit. We should have been
more patient because we had enough time."
Green, who received fluids intravenously, said he felt, "like I
wasn't even sick last night."
LSU, the regular-season champs, hadn't won a tournament title
since 1980 or played in the championship game since 1993. With
freshman Tyrus Thomas resting his sprained left ankle for the NCAA
tournament, the Tigers (23-8) snapped a seven-game winning streak.
Coach John Brady said his Tigers won the most important title in
the regular season and the loss shouldn't affect their seeding,
which he expects to be a No. 3.
"We accomplished what we needed to here, and everyone knows we
played without the freshman of the year for four straight games,
and everyone knows he's going to be back next week and help our
team be a little bit better than it is right now," Brady said.
Florida will play South Carolina on Sunday. The Gamecocks swept
Florida in the regular season.
"If you win it, you'll always be remembered," Brewer said of
the title matchup.
The Gators improved to 26-6 this season, the most games they
have won not counting NCAA Tournament victories. The nation's best
shooting team did it by hitting 54.4 percent from the floor.
LSU led 41-38 at halftime but opened the second half by hitting
only three of its first 13 shots. The Gators had no such problems
and used a 14-7 spurt to go up 52-48 on a bucket by Richard.
Noah slammed down a dunk that put Florida up 48-47 with 16:14 to
go. Davis hit a free throw to tie it at 48, and the Tigers managed
to tie it once more at 56 on a 3 by Darrel Mitchell. That was as
close as they would get.
Green capped a 16-3 run with his eight-point streak, and the
Gators padded that down the stretch for their fourth straight
"You've got to guard every one of those guys," Brady said of
the Gators. "There's no one guy out there you can't guard."
Davis struggled hours after matching his career-high with 28
points in a 92-73 victory over Vanderbilt. Florida clamped down on
him with a zone, and he had only two points in the first half and
finished with 12.
"We were just trying to contain him the best we could, and I
think we did a pretty good job even though he got a lot of our
front court in foul trouble," Noah said. "He's just a great
player, and I'm just happy we got the win."
Davis said one of the Tigers' weaknesses is executing against a
zone, and they really need Thomas back.
"He cuts a lot of slack off me and the rest of the team. We
just hope he gets well and we can get all the way to the top,"
Mitchell finished with a game-high 21 points for LSU. Tasmin
Mitchell matched his career-high for a second straight game with
20, and Darrell Lazare had 10 starting in place of Thomas.
The teams put on a shooting exhibition in the first half, only
fitting for two of the SEC's three highest-scoring teams. Each led
by as much as six in the half, and they swapped the lead five