NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP)—Florida’s big men normally get the most attention from opponents. Guards Lee Humphrey and Taurean Green took advantage in the quarterfinals of the Southeastern Conference tournament.
Humphrey scored a career-high 25 points, Green added 20 and the 16th-ranked Gators beat Arkansas 74-71 Friday night to advance to the tournament semifinals.
“Our frontcourt has been playing great, so we know teams will be keying on them. The guards are going to have to knock down some shots. We did a good job scoring inside and outside,” Green said.
The Gators (25-6) will play No. 17 LSU, the regular-season champion, in the semifinals Saturday.
Florida, which won its first SEC tournament last year, lost 85-81 in overtime at Arkansas on Feb. 18. That win for the Razorbacks (22-9) started a six-game winning streak that included their first-round victory over Georgia.
“We were a little lax in our attention to Humphrey and he torched us with shot after shot after shot. Taurean Green really stepped up big,” Arkansas coach Stan Heath said.
“Three-point shooting as well as our defense not being up to the level it’s been at throughout the season were the two things that were the difference in the game.”
Humphrey had only six points in the first game against Arkansas, but he scored 16 points in the first half to help the Gators get off to a good start.
“Tonight happened to be one of his nights. We become a very difficult team when he shoots like that,” Florida coach Billy Donovan said.
When Humphrey cooled off in the second half, Green got hot. He scored 14 of his points after halftime. The guards combined for 10-of-14 shooting from beyond the arc. Al Horford added 11 points for Florida.
Joakim Noah, the Gators’ leading scorer, had nine points.
Arkansas’ guards couldn’t match the productivity of Florida’s backcourt.
Ronnie Brewer, the SEC’s leading scorer, finished with 18 points, but Arkansas made just six of 21 3-pointers. Charles Thomas added 17 and Jonathon Modica had 13 for the Razorbacks.
Arkansas trailed by only five with 6:10 remaining, but the Gators had a quick 6-0 run highlighted by Corey Brewer’s one-handed dunk.
Thomas hit a 3 with 12.9 seconds left to pull Arkansas to 72-69, but Humphrey made a pair of free throws at the other end. Florida went 6-of-6 from the foul line in final 32.8 seconds.
The Gators put together a 9-0 run to take a 47-36 lead with 13:53 left. Green finished off the surge with a 3-pointer.
Florida took the lead early in the first half and extended it with a 10-2 run started by Humphrey’s consecutive 3s. Corey Brewer had a leaner in the lane to put the Gators up 25-15 with 8:46 left before halftime.
Florida earned a bye in the first round after winning at Kentucky in the final game of the regular season. The Gators are in the semifinals for the fourth time in Donovan’s 10 years.