By Associated Press
FLORIDA 77, NO. 19 WAKE FOREST 72: Guard Taurean Green scores 23 in a third straight victory.
NEW YORK - It was Taurean Green's turn to lead the Florida Gators.
The sophomore guard almost doubled his career high with 23 points and Florida beat No. 19 Wake Forest 77-72 on Thursday night in the semifinals of the Sports College Hoop Classic.
The Gators (3-0) advanced to tonight's championship game against No. 16 Syracuse, which defeated Texas Tech 81-46.
"Taurean hasn't had that kind of game and he's not always going to score 23," Florida coach Billy Donovan said. "We're just a team that's going to have different people step up on different nights."
Green, whose best was 13 points as a freshman against Providence, hit a 3-pointer in the 8-1 run that gave Florida a 72-62 lead with 2:06 left. His long jumper was the Gators' first field goal in a 5:36 span but Wake Forest had a shooting slump at the same time.
Eric Williams scored for Wake Forest (2-1) with 1:49 left to make it 72-64. It was the Demon Deacons' first field goal in 5:54. During the drought from the field they also missed four free throws, including the first shots of two one-and-ones.
"We couldn't stop the bleeding in that span when we missed free throws and had several empty possessions," Wake Forest coach Skip Prosser said. "That was the crucial point of the game. When we did get a stop we couldn't convert."
Justin Gray hit two 3s in the final 25 seconds for Wake Forest, but Florida went 3-for-5 from the line in that span. The Gators came up empty in just two of their final eight possessions.
Green, who had five assists and three steals, was 4-for-8 from 3-point range and 7-for-8 from the line.
"It was like my old running days," Green said. "It just happened in the flow of the game. They were taking away the 3 from Lee Humphrey, so we just took what the defense gave us. It just happens."
Corey Brewer, who led the Gators in scoring in their two wins, had 15 points and Al Horford added 11. Humphrey was 3-for-7 from 3-point range and had nine points.
"They weren't going to let Lee shoot but he got a couple of looks and made three of seven," Donovan said. "Lee going 3-for-7 most nights would be good for us."
Williams led Wake Forest with 20 points, and Gray had 19 and Trent Strickland 18. The Demon Deacons shot 42.1 percent (24-for-57), well off the 62.1 percent they shot in their first two games, and committed 22 turnovers, seven by Gray.
"I didn't finish well," Williams said. "I was trying to adjust down the stretch. I shot too hard on a couple."
The loss ended a three-game winning streak at Madison Square Garden for Wake Forest, including the semifinals and final of last year's Preseason NIT.Syracuse routs Texas Tech
NEW YORK - Syracuse had big runs in each half and the 16th-ranked Orange ran away to an 81-46 victory over Texas Tech in the semifinals of the Sports College Hoop Classic.
The matchup of two of the winningest coaches in college basketball history was never much of a game. Jim Boeheim got his 706th career win and improved his record against Bob Knight to 4-1, though Knight's lone win was in the 1987 national championship game when he was with Indiana. Knight has 856 victories.
Gerry McNamara had 12 points and nine assists for Syracuse, which opened the game with a 20-4 run. The Red Raiders (2-1) missed their first 12 shots from the field and 16 of their first 17.
Demetris Nichols hit a 3-pointer just before the halftime buzzer to give Syracuse a 34-22 lead.
In that span, the Red Raiders committed eight turnovers against the 2-3 zone and Knight called two timeouts and there was also a TV timeout. Nothing helped. Syracuse led by 75-36 with 5:15 left.
Knight's worst loss in his four-plus seasons at Texas Tech was 90-50 to Kansas on March 9, 2002, his first season there.
"Sometimes there is a turning point in a game," Knight said. "This game was over in the first five minutes."
Nichols and Eric Devendorf each had 11 points for the Orange. Syracuse shot 51.6 percent from the field (33-for-64), including 8-for-25 from 3-point range.
The Red Raiders finished 17-for-59 from the field (28.8 percent) and committed 18 turnovers.
"When a team can't put the ball in the basket against you, it is just a matter of time before a game is out of control," Boeheim said.
"We try to make this a complicated game but even my 5-year-old knows that you just have to put the ball in the basket. We are nowhere that good and they are nowhere that bad."