It was Taurean Green's turn to lead the Florida Gators.

The sophomore guard almost doubled his career high with 23 points, and Florida beat No. 19 Wake Forest, 77-72, last night in the semifinals of the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic at Madison Square Garden.

The Gators (3-0) advanced to tonight's final against No. 16 Syracuse, which defeated Texas Tech in the other semifinal last night.

Green, whose previous best was 13 points as a freshman against Providence, hit a three-pointer in the 8-1 run that gave Florida a 72-62 lead with 2 minutes 6 seconds to play. His long jumper was the Gators' first field goal in a 5:36 span, but Wake Forest had its own shooting slump at the same time.

Eric Williams scored down low for Wake Forest (2-1) with 1:49 left to make it 72-64. It was the Demon Deacons' first field goal in 5:54.

"We couldn't stop the bleeding in that span when we missed free throws and had several empty possessions," Wake Forest Coach Skip Prosser said. "That was the crucial point of the game. When we did get a stop we couldn't convert."

Justin Gray hit two three-pointers in the final 25 seconds for Wake Forest, but Florida went 3 for 5 from the free throw line in that span.

Green, who had five assists and three steals, was 4 for 8 on three-pointers, and made 7 of 8 free throws.

* SYRACUSE 81, TEXAS TECH 46: The Orange had big runs in each half and 16th-ranked Syracuse easily beat the Red Raiders to advance to the title game of the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic.

The Orange (3-0) will play Florida in the final tonight at Madison Square Garden.

The matchup of two of the winningest coaches in college basketball history was never much of a game. Jim Boeheim got his 706th career win and improved to 4-1 against Bob Knight, although Knight's lone win was in the 1987 national championship game when he was with Indiana. Knight has 856 victories.

Gerry McNamara had 12 points and nine assists for Syracuse, which opened the game with a 20-4 run. The Red Raiders (2-1) missed their first 12 shots from the field and 16 of their first 17.

* UCLA 54, TEMPLE 47: Arron Afflalo scored 18 points and the No. 18 Bruins won a second-round Preseason NIT game in Los Angeles.

The Bruins (2-0) advanced to next week's semifinals at New York's Madison Square Garden. The Bruins last reached the semifinals in 1992, losing to Seton Hall.

The Owls (1-1) were led by Mardy Collins with 15 points.

* MEMPHIS 87, ALABAMA 76: Darius Washington had 23 points and six assists as the No. 12 Tigers ran past the No. 15 Crimson Tide in a second round Preseason NIT game in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

U-Conn. Women Roll

Charde Houston and Ann Strother scored 11 points apiece to lead No. 9 Connecticut to a 60-46 win over visiting Boston College in the semifinals of the Preseason Women's NIT. The Huskies (3-0) will play No. 22 Oklahoma (3-0) Sunday for the title.

Freshman guard Renee Montgomery finished with 10 points for U-Conn., while Kathrin Ress and Kindyll Dorsey each scored 11 for the Eagles (2-1).