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‘Big’ trouble for Gators; FSU wins

March 19, 2011
From AP wire reports

"Big Josh" could pose big problems for Florida.

UCLA's 6-foot-10, 325-pound freshman is the center of attention - in the Bruins' locker room, in two news conferences and especially in Florida's team meeting room.

Smith says it's not like he's "the Hulk or anything."

Florida disagrees. The Gators, the No. 2 seed in the Southeast region, are focusing on Smith heading into Saturday's third-round game in Tampa. With good reason, too.

"He's a mountain," Florida coach Billy Donovan said. "He's a freight train. I would say every game that Josh Smith goes into, he has a physical advantage. I don't think there's any question about that. ... I don't think that necessarily any of our frontcourt players are just going to line up and move him around."

The freshman from Kent, Wash., the one simply nicknamed "Big Josh," was a major factor in No. 7 seed UCLA's opener in the NCAA tournament. He had 14 points, three rebounds, two steals, an assist and a block.

His numbers were only part of the story. Smith dominated the paint, forcing Michigan State to settle for jumpers and three-pointers.

Florida beat UCLA in the Final Four in consecutive years in 2006 and 2007. The Gators had a significant size advantage inside, with 6-foot-10 Al Horford and 6-foot-11 Joakim Noah in the starting lineup and 6-foot-9 Chris Richard coming off the bench.

FSU 57, Texas A&M 50: Florida State had just knocked off Texas A&M for its first NCAA tournament win in 13 years, and one thought crossed Derwin Kitchen's mind.

"It feels pretty good, but we're not satisfied with the win," Kitchen said. "We want to try and keep playing as long as possible."

Kitchen scored 15 points, and the 10th-seeded Seminoles moved on in the tournament for the first time since 1998 with a victory over the seventh-seeded Aggies (24-9) in the second round Friday in Chicago.

Bernard James added 10 points and three blocks, keying a go-ahead run in the second half, and the Seminoles (22-10) advanced even though star Chris Singleton struggled in his return from a broken right foot, finishing with five points and four fouls.

If they beat Notre Dame Sunday, they'll head to San Antonio for the next round in the Southwest Regional, with the Final Four in Houston.

Horford, Noah and the Gators dominated both meetings, winning 73-57 in the title game in 2006 and notching a 76-66 victory in the semifinals the following year.

 
 

 

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