Over those final six minutes, Corey Brewer scored a couple more times to pad the point total but it was the rebound the crowd wanted. They agonized every time a shot went up and anyone but Brewer snatched the rebound. Every time the ball went up the crowd stood on its feet, ready to burst into a cheer but if Brewer didn't get the rebound, there was a unison gasp of disappointment. He came close to snagging that elusive tenth rebound on a couple of occasions but both times Joakim Noah, who was setting some personal history of his own with the first double-double of his career, came down with the ball.
The historic tenth rebound more or less fell into his hands. He didn't even have to jump for it when Marcus Allen's three-pointer skidded off the right side of the rim but the moment he clutched it into his hands, the crowd erupted especially when PA Announcer Tom Collette announced that Brewer had done what no Gator had ever done: 15 points, 13 assists and 10 rebounds.
Brewer's triple-double wasn't the only history made as the Gators routed Jacksonville University 101-58 before an O-Dome crowd of 10,445. The win was the tenth straight for Florida, tying the 1951-52 Gators for the best start of a basketball season in school history. The sixth-ranked Gators have a chance to become sole owner of the longest streak in school history Thursday night when they visit Miami.
Taurean Green added his name to the record books, too. The sophomore point guard had 11 points and six assists but it was his two free throws with 10:34 remaining that gave him sole possession of the all-time Florida record for consecutive free throws. He's hit the last 35 in a row, delegating Kenyan Weaks to sole possession of second place for that record.
Noah had the first double-double of his career, leading Florida in scoring with 21 points and adding 10 rebounds. Al Horford also had a double-double with 20 points and a game-high 11 rebounds.
The Gators shot 55.4 percent for the game despite the worst three-point shooting effort of the season. Florida came into the game one of the hottest three-point shooting teams in the SEC but they managed just 5-23 against JU. The Gators compensated for the lack of an outside game by pounding the ball inside to Noah (8-11 shooting from the field), Horford (9-11) and Chris Richard (5-5), who came off the bench to add 12 points. Throw in Adrian Moss who came off the bench to hit the only shot he attempted and the Gator big men went a combined 23-28 from the field.
For the game, the Gators had more points in the paint (66) than JU scored as a team (58).
The outstanding shooting and dominance on the inside were to be expected against a JU team that came into the game with only one win in six outings. The Dolphins of the Atlantic Sun Conference weren't expected to pose a serious threat to the Gators so the excitement of the game was over and done with early on. Only a shot at history by Brewer kept the crowd into the game and they were rewarded for staying around.
Brewer's teammates knew how close he was to history and they were urging him on. He realized that the crowd was aware by the way they reacted to every shot that went up. He heard each agonized sigh when someone else rebounded a missed shot. There was such expectation of a rebound by Brewer that when Gator walk-on Brett Swanson hit a three-ball from the corner with 1:54 left in the game, the crowd was torn between cheering and letting out one more collective gasp.
"I knew I was getting close when the crowd started telling me I had to get one more rebound," said Brewer, who admitted that the final rebound was almost a relief. "It took forever to get that last rebound."
The team was keeping count of Brewer's points, rebounds and assists on the sideline. They saw the stat sheets at the half and knew that their sophomore teammate had a chance to get the triple-double.
"We talked about it during the half and we figured out how many more points and rebounds he needed," said Horford. "I just told him to give me that ball and I would help take care of it."
Brewer, who said he had several triple-doubles back in his high school days in Portland, Tennessee, said the assists are usually the hardest stat to rack up. He's a high flyer who can have double-figures rebounding games and he's the team's leading scorer at 14.9 points per game with only two of Florida's 10 games with less than 10 points.
"If I can get passes like that down low and my guys can make shots like they were doing today, that makes me look good," said Brewer. "I just have to look to the interior first and get the ball there. If I get the ball down low they'll make the shot but if the defense collapses they'll get the ball back out to Lee (Humphrey) or Taurean or me for an open three so I'm always looking to get the ball inside."
As pleased as he was with the triple-double by Brewer, Coach Billy Donovan was even more impressed that his 6-9 sophomore took care of the basketball. Brewer had a team-leading 29 turnovers coming into the game but against JU he protected the ball and turned it over just one time.
"We pointed out to him after the Bethune-Cookman game that his turnovers were way too high," said Donovan. "Today he played smart and took care of the ball."
Donovan kept Brewer in the game over the final three minutes specifically to get that final rebound. It was a move that made him a little bit nervous but he felt it was worth it.
"If it [triple-double] had been done seven or eight times before, I would have pulled him," said Donovan. "It's a pretty big thing that in all the years that Florida has played basketball --- and there have been some pretty good players here --- that no one ever got a triple-double. I felt compelled to give Corey a chance."
The Gators weren't hitting from the outside, but the interior game more than made up for the lack of accuracy. Donovan credited assistant coach Anthony Grant for his hard work with the big guys. Grant recently broke down on film every possession by every one of Florida's big guys, then used the film to teach them to be more patient making their moves to the hoop and to use better judgment about when to go up for a shot or when to kick it out to an open shooter.
"Our bigs have learned a lot from Anthony Grant," said Donovan.
Grant's teaching shows particularly with Horford, who has hit 29 of his last 36 shots and is 52-72 from the field this season. Noah is 44-69 and Richard, off the bench, is an incredible 32-37 for a sizzling 86 percent shooting percentage.
As well as they are shooting and playing as a team, they know they can get better, too.
"What's so great about this team is that we still have a lot of growing to do," said Noah. "We can be so much better.
"All these guys are my brothers. There is no better feeling to see your team get to this level. We just have to keep doing what we are doing. I'm really proud of our team."