Florida Crushes Alabama Hopes

It may be that Alabama has a better chance to be Southeastern Conference champion than to get into the NCAA Tournament. Although no one will consider the Crimson Tide a champion after its performance in Gainesville Tuesday night, mathematically Bama can still tie for the crown.

On Senior night in Gainesville, Alabama had no answer for Florida's seniors. A game that was tied at halftime, turned into a rout early in the second half the the match of SEC Western and Eastern Division first place teams. Florida took a 78-51 and clinched at least a tie for the league championship.

Alabama lost its second consecutive SEC game and fell to 11-4 in conference games with one to play. Florida improved to 12-3, also with one remaining.

Alabama concludes regular season play Saturday when the Crimson Tide hosts Georgia at 12:30 CST. Bama is 15-0 in Coleman Coliseum this year. Florida completes its regular season Saturday night at Vanderbilt. An Alabama win and a Florida loss Saturday would make the teams co-champions.

But after Tuesday night, no one would consider the teams in the same league. The loss left Alabama at 19-10 overall and consensus is that the Tide's last two losses have put an NCAA Tournament berth in doubt. Florida, ranked 14th in the nation, improved to 23-6.

Florida's three seniors -- Vernon Macklin (19), Alex Tyus (12), Chandler Parsons (19) -- scored 50 of Florida's 78 points.

Although Alabama has been a very good defensive team this year, the Tide did not have a good defensive game, even before the Gators scored 48 second half points. In the first half, the Gators were not making open shots. Florida hit 11-30 for 36.7 per cent. Those same unguarded shots were going down in the second half. The Gators made 18-28 for 69.2 per cent.

For the game, Florida hit 29-56 for 51.8 per cent. The Gators missed their first 10 three-point shots, but for the game were 8-21for 38.1 per cent (6-9 in the second half). Florida was only 12-20 on free throws. Alabama made only 21-54 field goals (38.9 per cent) and only 1-8 (12.5 per cent) on three point shots. Bama was very good on free throws, but shot only nine of them, making eight.

Florida had a 39-29 rebounding advantage and outscored the Tide in the paint, 38-36. Alabama had 15 turnovers, off which the Gators got 15 points. Florida had only eight turnovers, Bama eight points off them.

Florida broke it open early in the second half with a 10-0 run. The Gators led by only 42-38 when JaMychal Green missed a slam dunk and that seemed to ignite Florida and deflate Bama. It was never in doubt after the Gators had a double digit lead by midpoint of the second half.

Individually, Trevor Releford had 17 points, Tony Mitchell 14, and JaMychal Green 10 for Bama.

Although Florida led most of the first half, it was 30-30 at intermission. The Gators had the lead most of the first period, but Bama was able to grab the lead with some transition baskets.

The Tide was helped by very poor Florida shooting that didn't take advantage of Alabama turnovers and Gators rebounding. Florida missed its first 10 three-point shots, but did hit its last two--both in the last 1:35. The second trey tied the game just before halftime.

There were seven ties and nine lead changes in the first half. Florida's greatest first half lead was four points, Bama's largest margin three points.

That seems like a long time ago.

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