Tide Comes Up Just Short Vs. Gators

Alabama fought the good fight, but it was unable to advance to weekend play in the Southeastern Conference Basketball Tournament. Florida survived a last-gasp three-point attempt that would have sent the game to overtime, and defeated the Crimson Tide, 66-63, in the New Orleans Arena.



Alabama never led in the game and trailed Florida by 12 points during the second half.

Now Alabama waits until Sunday afternoon to see where the Crimson Tide is headed for the NCAA Tournament.

The Crimson Tide is now 21-11. Florida improved to 23-9.

Something had to give in true neutral court games. Both teams came into the game 4-0 on neutral courts. Florida won and advances to play Kentucky, a team that defeated the Gators by 15 in Gainesville in the final game of regular season play.

Alabama had two chances to tie the game in the last minute. With 20 seconds to play, JaMychal Green, who had a terrific second half, had a one-and-one free throw attempt with the Tide trailing 64-62 and made one. Bama then had to foul and the Gators' Kenny Boynton made two free throws with 9.8 seconds to play. Bama raced down court and worked to get Lacey a three-point opportunity, but the freshman's shot bounced off the front of the rim as time expired.

A key to Florida's victory was that the Gators committed only five turnovers, only one in the second half.

Green was the game's high scorer. He connected on 7-14 from the field and 8-9 free throws for 22 points. He was also high rebounder with 10. Trevor Releford had 12 points and Trevor Lacey 11.

Florida was led by Bradley Beal and Erik Murphy with 16 points each and Kenny Boynton with 14.

Alabama made 24-45 field goal attempts for 53.3 per cent, while holding Florida to 20-52 for 38.5 per cent. The Gators, though, made 10-30 three-point shots, 33.3 per cent, Bama only 3-8 for 37.5 per cent. Florida made 16-19 free throws for 84.4 per cent (and the Gators were good on 11-12 in the second half) and the Tide hit 12-16 for 75 per cent.

Alabama had a slight 32-27 advantage in rebounding. Bama won the battle of points in the paint, 38-20. The Tide had 11 turnovers and Florida scored 17 points off those errors. The Gators had only five turnovers and the Tide scored seven points off them. Alabama had six fast break points to two for Florida. Bama's bench scored 13 points, Florida's subs 8.

Alabama Coach Anthony Grant gave Florida for its game and said that he and his players were disappointed they wouldn't be going forward in the SEC Tournament. "I was very proud of the effort that our guys gave," he said. "I thought we had great fight in us.

"I thought everybody got on the floor for us. They really impacted the game. So we're going to have our heads up, look forward to whatever comes next for us as a basketball team. And I feel like this tournament allowed us to get better."

Alabama trailed by 26-24 going to the second half, but tied the game almost immediately when Andrew Steele grabbed a long rebound and fed Green for a slam dunk. Bama would also be tied at 28-28, but then Florida went on a 17-5 run to take its biggest lead at 45-33 with 12:50 to play.

Alabama answered with a 16-4 run and tied the game at 49-49 when Trevor Releford drove the baseline, fed Green, who made the layup and a foul shot.

Alabama would have another tie at 51-51, but the Gators took the lead for a good when Green fouled Kenny Boynton on a three-point shot and Boynton made all three. Another Florida trey a moment later by Scottie Wilbekin gave the Gators some breathing room, but Bama didn't go away, even after Boynton made Florida's 10th three-pointer of the game with 1:57 to play and a gave the Gators a 64-57 lead.

Two Green foul shots and a Trevor Lacey trey with 1:05 to play ct the lead to 64-62.

Florida's only turnover of the second half came with 41 seconds to play. Bama got the ball to Green, who was fouled. Green had made seven consecutive free throws and made it eight in a row before he missed on what would have been the tying point with 20 seconds to play,

Alabama spent the first half battling from behind. Three times Bama fell six points behind Florida – 7-1, and fought back to tie at 7-7; 15-9, and fought back to tie at 15-15; and 25-19, and didn't quite get back, but pulled to within a basket at 26-24 on a Levi Randolph three-point shot with a second to play before intermission.

The first half had both teams playing the way they wanted to play. For Bama, it was man-to-man defense and attacking inside on offense (18 points in the lane). For Florida, it was a packed-in zone defense and shooting three-pointers (the Gators made 5-14 on treys—three by Bradley Beal).

One thing Alabama likes to do is shoot free throws. Even though Bama was driving inside for shots, the Gators were almost foul free. The Tide shot only two free throws (making one) in the first half. Florida made 4-5 foul shots.

TIDE NOTES: Alabama started JaMychal Green, Nick Jacobs, Trevor Releford, Andrew Steele, and Levi Randolph.

Alabama is 0-2 against Florida this year. Bama lost to Florida by 61-52 in Tuscaloosa in regular season play. Bama Coach Anthony Grant, a former assistant coach under Florida Coach Billy Donovan, is now 0-4 against Donovan.

Although Alabama leads the all-time series against Florida, 73-60, the Gators have won nine of the last 11 games.

The last time Bama met the Gators in the SEC Tournament was 2008, when Alabama won by 80-69. The Tide is now 7-5 in SEC Tournament games against Florida.

Since the SEC Tournament was restarted in 1979, Alabama is 44-29 in the event, the second best record of SEC teams. Alabama is 60-46 all-time in the SEC Tournament.

Alabama has a winning record against every SEC team in the tournament except Kentucky. Bama is 2-13 vs. the Wildcats.

Grant has had a 1-1 record in each of the three SEC Tournaments he has coached the Tide.

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