Gators roar past UCLA for first national title


Billy Donovan holds up the trophy with the team after the University of Florida Gators 73-57 win against the UCLA

Michael C. Weimar/The Gainesville Sun
Published: Tuesday, April 4, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, April 4, 2006 at 3:15 a.m.
Indianapolis: It was a victory so big it needs two celebrations.
The Florida basketball team won the school's first-ever national championship in basketball by throttling tradition-rich UCLA 73-57 Monday night in the RCA Dome.
The team will be honored today at Gainesville Raceway, with the gates opening at 11 a.m. and the Gator caravan expected to arrive sometime around 12:15 p.m.
On Friday evening, the champs will be honored at the O'Connell Center. Details will be available later in the week.
“I can't wait to get back to Gainesville,” said Joakim Noah, the Final Four's most outstanding player. “Coach, don't get mad at us, because we're going to do it very, very, very big.”
UCLA (32-7), which had won 11 national titles, trailed for all but 1:15 of the game. UF (33-6) extended the lead to 20 in the second half.
Saturday night's semifinal hero, Lee Humphrey, hit the clincher when he nailed a 3-point shot with 2:06 to play after the Bruins had cut the lead to 12.
Noah led the Gators with 16 points and also set a championship-game record with six blocked shots, five of them in the first half.
Humphrey had 15, Al Horford 14 and Corey Brewer 11. Taurean Green scored only two points, but had eight assists.
“I'm very happy for these guys,” said Florida coach Billy Donovan. “They did a great job. I'm happy for them and for the University of Florida and all the people that get to share in it.
“It hasn't been just this game. It's been all year long. They've stayed focused and driven,” he said.
Florida became only the seventh team since the wire-service football polls began crowning champions to win national titles in both football and basketball.
It was a game so big that Gator football coach Urban Meyer pushed spring practice back a day to attend the game with his wife, Shelley.
With several thousand Florida fans in attendance and thousands more back at the O'Connell Center watching on a big screen, the Gators finished the season unbeaten in neutral sites and unbeaten against non-SEC teams.
It was the 25th national championship in all sports for the Gators.

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