Despite a nearly flawless first half, the Alabama Crimson Tide (9–14, 3–7 SEC) was unable to pull off the upset against the No. 3 Florida Gators (21–2, 10–0 SEC) on the road.
Although the game was tied at half, the Crimson Tide ran into the locker room with some momentum after one of the best halves of basketball this season. Trevor Releford nearly matched his average scoring total in the first half and the Tide’s defense was dominate against Florida’s high-powered offense.
But a scoring drought coupled with several defensive miscues allowed the Gators to jump out to an early second half lead and never look back.
Anthony Grant chose to go with a smaller, more athletic lineup on Saturday which seemed to work well in the early going. Nick Jacobs got the start at forward instead of Carl Engstrom.
Jacobs was a constant in the starting lineup last season, but Grant has chosen to bring him off the bench this year.
Trevor Releford once again led the Tide’s attack on offense. He led all scorers with 25 points on 7-for–10 from the field. Releford also added four steals, four assists and two steals. He was also a perfect 7-for–7 from the free throw line.
The senior guard has been the lone constant for the Tide all season. His big game against the Gators marked his 23rd straight contest in double-figure scoring this season.
Junior forward Rodney Cooper finished with seven points and six rebounds and sophomore guard Retin Obasohan added 9 points off the bench.
Freshman forward Jimmie Taylor showed some major improvement on the low block especially on defense. He was able to notch six points and two blocks against two of the SEC’s best forwards in Patric Young and Will Yeguete.
Florida showed that they are deserving of their number three ranking in the second half. The Gators have one of the nation’s most balanced attacks on both sides of the ball.
The Gators’ win was simply a team effort. All five starters finished in double-figures for scoring and all but forward Will Yeguete played over 30 minutes.
Senior guard Scottie Wilbekin led the Gators with 16 points, four rebounds and three assists. Senior center Patric Young was perfect from the field and added 11 points and two rebounds.
Florida was the mark of efficiency on offense. The Gators shot an astounding 62 percent (31-of–50) from the field.
Saturday’s win marks Florida’s 15th-straight victory and their nineth-straight over the Crimson Tide.
The Gators will move on to face the Tennessee Volunteers (15–8, 6–4 SEC) on Tuesday in Knoxville, Tenn.
Alabama will look to snap its five-game losing streak on Tuesday against the Ole Miss Rebels (15–7, 6–3 SEC) at Coleman Coliseum.
Tip-off for Tuesday’s game is set for 8 p.m. CT. Television coverage will be provided by ESPNU and via the WatchESPN app. Radio coverage, as always, will be provided by your local CTSN affiliate.
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