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Technical foul call fires Gators up at right time

By JOANNE KORTH

© St. Petersburg Times, published March 20, 2000


WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- Florida coach Billy Donovan didn't think he said anything bad enough to deserve a technical foul, but the timing sure was good.

Late in the first half, Florida post players were struggling to adjust to Illinois' physical play, and Donovan already had worked over the officials without effect. The Gators trailed 28-24.

"I didn't think I deserved the technical because I yelled to Donnell Harvey, who I thought had lost his composure, that they're not going to call it. He gave me a T."

Donovan took advantage of the time Cory Bradford spent at the free-throw line -- he made one for a 29-24 lead -- to settle his players. The Gators outscored Illinois 16-5 the rest of the half on the way to a 93-76 victory.

"Illinois was playing extremely physical in the frontcourt," Donovan said. "That's the way they play. We told our guys about that. I huddled the guys and told them they needed to keep their composure and play through that."

HOME, SWEET HOME: Senior Kenyan Weaks, a native of Concord, N.C., made a triumphant return to his home state. He scored 20 points in UF's two victories.

"It was great to come back home and play in front of my family and friends," Weaks said. "To go back to the Sweet 16 by playing in my home state is a great feeling."

SWEET ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Florida makes its fourth trip to the Sweet 16 in seven NCAA Tournaments. The Gators advanced in 1987, '94 and '99, making this their first back-to-back appearance.

SECONDS OF FAME: Ronnie King, a second-year walk-on from Seffner Armwood High, made his first NCAA Tournament appearance, playing the final 22 seconds of the first half. Guards Brett Nelson and Justin Hamilton each had two fouls, and Donovan used King for defense on the Illini's final possession.

TIP-INS: Florida set three school records for NCAA Tournament play: points (93), free throws (32) and free-throw attempts (41). Mike Miller's rebounding average of 8.8 is the highest by a UF player in the tournament. ... This season, Illinois coach Lon Kruger faced all three of his former schools, beating Texas-Pan American and Kansas State

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