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May 25, 2011

The Silver Lining: Two for Tuesday

Florida Gators - both former and current - were the talk of the sports world on both coasts Tuesday evening even though neither the football nor basketball team was in action.

In Miami, FL, three of them were on the court for the fourth game of the Eastern Conference Finals pitting the Miami Heat against the Chicago Bulls.

Center Joakim Noah performed admirably for Chicago, posting six points and a game-high 14 rebounds in the overtime affair, but Miami jumped ahead in the extra period to win by eight.

The duo of former Gators on the Heat, guard Mike Miller and power forward Udonis Haslem, each had their moments with Miller in particular being a catalyst in the contest. Haslem ended the game +25 with nine rebounds, but Miller was all over the place with 12 points on 5-of-8 shooting, nine boards and a ridiculous +36 margin on the evening.

Miller posted this performance while his baby daughter Jaylen, who was born on Friday, remains in the hospital due to complications. He has been wearing pink shoelaces in her honor.

After the game, Miami head coach Erik Spolestra referred to Haslem/Miller as the "two Florida boys" and praised them for entering late in the fourth quarter to join the big three and lead the team to victory.

Simultaneously, the Florida women's tennis program was across the country in Stanford, CA winning its school-record fifth NCAA Championship and first since 2003.

The Gators' match lasted four hours and went to a deciding third set featuring sophomore Lauren Embree fighting tooth and nail for a 8-6 tiebreak victory to clinch the title.

Embree's heroic performance provided Florida with a measure of revenge against Stanford, which beat them for the 2010 NCAA title and defeated them in the 2011 ITA Indoor Championships earlier this year.)
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