tampabay.com

Humphrey comes up big for UF

The junior guard's three 3-pointers to open the second half dash George Mason's comeback hopes.

By JOHN SCHWARB
Published April 2, 2006


INDIANAPOLIS - It's one thing to meet your idol. How about imitating him in his own building?

For Florida junior Lee Humphrey, it was one of those nights Saturday in the Gators' 73-58 win over George Mason. Just days after meeting Indianapolis Colts and former Tennessee quarterback Peyton Manning, the Tennessee native lit up the RCA Dome with six 3-pointers.

Much had been made about the Patriots' Cinderella-story run to the Final Four, but make no mistake: Humphrey made the clock strike midnight.

"Tonight, Humpty Dumpty was the monster," sophomore teammate Joakim Noah said.

Taking a five-point lead out of halftime, Humphrey quickly put a dagger in George Mason's title dreams with three from behind the arc in just under two minutes. The third put the Gators up 40-28, and the Patriots never threatened again.

"It's definitely exciting," Humphrey said. "As a kid you always dream about playing well in the big games."

Part of the game plan for the Gators was to get their 3-point game working, and they succeeded from the outset. Taurean Green was the hot hand in the first half, hitting three of Florida's six 3-pointers, including two that gave Florida its halftime cushion.

Humphrey was a pedestrian 1-for-5 at the break, but coach Billy Donovan told him to keep firing. The junior answered with the second-half barrage.

Humphrey's six 3-pointers tied his season high, set in the Gators' first-round NCAA Tournament win over South Alabama. It was the third most by an individual in an NCAA national semifinal, tying Arizona's Mike Bibby, who turned the feat in 1997 in the RCA Dome against North Carolina.

"I've seen him hot, but I've never seen him that hot," teammate Corey Brewer said. "I've seen him hot in practice before, but this is on the big stage."

The big stage, for a soft-spoken kid who still refers to giant domed stadiums as "gyms" and is fond of getting around Gainesville on two wheels. He missed a game this season after separating his shoulder following a bicycle accident, taking playful ribbing from teammates, who called him "Lance Armstrong."

But he's back at full strength, and said he eagerly awaits riding again when he returns to Gainesville.

One more night like Saturday, he may be riding as a national champion.