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UF makes history with 11-0 start
By IAN FISHER
Published December 23, 2005
CORAL GABLES - Florida forward Joakim Noah's sister picked a good first time to see him playing in college.
Yelena and father Yannick, a French Open Champion, came from Paris and won't leave disappointed. Noah led the Gators with 18 points against Miami (6-5) in a 77-67 Florida victory in front of 7,000 at the Bank United Center Thursday night.
Also in attendance were former Gators Udonis Haslem and Jason Williams, who now play for the Miami Heat. They got to witness the Gators make history.
The win brought the No. 5 Gators to 11-0, the first team in school history to start the year off with 11 victories.
"We weren't even ranked coming into the season, so we're trying to prove a point," forward Corey Brewer said. "We want to keep proving that point - that we're for real."
Coach Billy Donovan downplayed the feat, saying finishing is more important.
"This team will always be in the record books in Florida basketball history," Donovan said. "I think that's a great accomplishment I'm proud of these kids and they deserve it."
The Gators shot only 32.3 percent from the field in the first half, and Brewer was only 2 for 11 in what he called the worst half all season for the Gators.
"It was one of those halves where we just couldn't make a shot," Donovan said. "It was the first time all year I felt like it affected our defense."
Donovan said the Gators took good shots, but they just weren't falling. Brewer hit three free throws to tie the game at 33 heading to halftime, and he knew the Gators would be all right the rest of the game.
"They were like, "Geez, we're tied, and we're not making any shots and we probably let some of that affect our defense. We're right there, we're fine,' " Donovan said. "I thought we came out like gangbusters to start the second half."
Miami guard Guillermo Diaz led all scorers with 25 points. The 10-point victory was the largest lead for the Gators, while the Hurricanes led by as many as nine in the first half.
"We fought hard," Diaz said. "We just didn't execute at the end. All I wanted to do was win."
The crowd seemed about split between Hurricane and Gator fans, who were very vocal, which surprised Donovan.
Despite the crowd almost sounding like the Gators were at home, Donovan felt the Gators learned a lot about themselves.
"It was a great win on the road," Donovan said. "Having to battle from nine points down and having to battle from being five or six down with maybe six minutes to play."