Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Sweet Repeat for UF Gators Win Return Trip to Round of 16

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Sweet Repeat for UF Gators Win Return Trip to Round of 16

Article excerpt

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- The story begins in the third game of the season, with Brett Nelson and Teddy Dupay benched and bewildered in paradise.

It continued yesterday, when the University of Florida guards walked off the floor at Lawrence Joel Coliseum as heroes of the Gators' 93-76 victory over Illinois in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

Tobacco Road is more conducive to basketball than Hawaii, anyway.

"When we were in Hawaii," Dupay said of UF's spot in the Maui Invitational in November, "that obviously wasn't one of our better days."

Yesterday's quarterfinal game in the East Region was.

Nelson and Dupay combined for 32 points, running UF's up-tempo offense to near perfection and helping the fifth-seeded Gators advance to the Sweet 16 for a school-record second consecutive season.

Fourth-seeded Illinois made the decision to run with Florida instead of slowing tempo, and the Gators -- specifically Nelson and Dupay -- made it pay.

Dupay and Nelson combined to hit 8-of-12 3-pointers, connecting on key shots in transition to lead the Gators (26-7) into Friday's game against top-ranked and No. 1 seed Duke (29-4) at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse.

"I'm so proud of those two guys and the way they played," said Florida coach Billy Donovan. "They were fearless."

The foundation of yesterday's victory over former UF coach Lon Kruger can be traced to a decision made by Donovan in the third game of the season in the Maui Invitational.

It was there that he benched Dupay and Nelson, forcing them to sit and watch the style he wanted played in a demoralizing loss to Purdue. If guard play really is a key to advancing in the NCAA Tournament, then the UF guards -- criticized for much of the season -- may have finally found their roles.

Nelson played 19 minutes at the point, and had 16 points, four assists and three steals. …

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