Florida's Humphrey Shoots Down Razorbacks

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Florida coach Billy Donovan urged Gators junior guard Lee Humphrey recently to become more aggressive on offense.

That turned out to be a bad thing for Arkansas.

Humphrey, whose career high was 18 points, obliterated that mark with 25 points on Friday night as defending Southeastern Conference Tournament champion Florida held off the Razorbacks 74-71 before 17,777 fans in the Gaylord Entertainment Center.

In the first half, Humphrey scored 16 points, including 4 of 6 from 3-point range.

The Gators (25-6) led just 33-29 at halftime, despite having outrebounded Arkansas 22-14 and having made 6 of 8 treys compared to Arkansas' 1 of 9.

But Florida extended that lead to 66-53 with 2:10 remaining before the Razorbacks (22-9) staged a frantic comeback at the finish.

Humphrey, who suffered a separated shoulder in a Jan. 29 bicycle accident and missed six games, has been among the national leaders in 3-point shooting accuracy all season.

Against Arkansas, he made 5 of 9 3-pointers and 8 of 14 shots overall, plus all four of his free throws at the end.

"I think we did a good job of handling Arkansas' pressure," Humphrey said, despite Florida's 17 turnovers. "Now we're just going to go back to the hotel, get some food and get ready for (today)."

Florida will meet LSU, a 92-73 winner over Vanderbilt, at 2:15 p.m. today.

"Tonight I warmed up good before the game, and coach (Donovan) instilled in me the confidence to take my shot," Humphrey said.

Donovan said ever since his "tirade" during a timeout in a Florida loss to Alabama three games ago, Humphrey has done a better job of looking for his shot.

"When we lost to Arkansas in Fayetteville, Lee only shot 2 of 11, but he had good looks," Donovan said. "In that game, Ronnie Brewer, Jonathon Modica and Eric Ferguson played big for Arkansas. Tonight, our two guys (Humphrey and Taurean Green) stepped up."

Green complemented Humphrey with 20 points on 6-of-8 shooting, including an eye-popping 5 of 5 on 3-pointers.

Donovan said Green's recent ankle tendinitis might have been a blessing in disguise, because it limited his practice time and that seemed to rejuvenate him.

As a team, the Gators made 10 of 15 3-pointers.

"We lost to a very good Florida team," said Hogs coach Stan Heath. "They played very well.

"Two things — we were a little bit lax in our attention to Humphrey. He torched us shot after shot. And Taurean stepped up big. Tonight he got in his rhythm."

Ronnie Brewer scored 18 points for Arkansas, while Charles Thomas added 17 and Modica had 13. But for the third straight game, UA inside players Darian Townes (five points) and Steven Hill (two points) struggled to score.

"Our guards need to do a better job of getting the ball inside," Brewer said. "Florida's zone made it difficult to get the ball to the low post. But we've got to get those guys going because they make us a much better team."

Arkansas' next chance will come in the NCAA Tournament, where Thomas aims to make someone pay.

"We're a very angry group," Thomas said. "Next game, we're going to kill."

Heath said, "Thomas has done a yeoman job for us."

Arkansas did its best to rally down the stretch against Florida, as Modica made a 3 to pull the Hogs within 67-58 and two free throws for 68-60. Brewer's steal and two free throws cut the deficit to 68-62 at 1:04. Thomas' 3 from the corner with 12.9 ticks left made it 72-69, but Humphrey salted the game away with two free throws.

Donovan complimented the Hogs, noting, "We had an opportunity to win by more than three points but they continued to drive the ball. They're hard to guard because they run motion very well. Stan has done a great job of teaching these kids to play the game."

Donovan added, "The biggest difference between Arkansas this year and last year is their ability to move and pass the basketball. They have the size and athleticism to match up with our front line."

Al Horford scored 11 points, Joakim Noah had nine and Corey Brewer also scored nine for Florida.

Sean McCurdy had a nice 15-minute stint for the Hogs, getting two points and four assists, with no turnovers.

The Razorbacks now await the NCAA Sunday Selection Show to see where they'll be sent next week in their first NCAA appearance since 2001.

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