Gators Rout Tide

There is no basketball team that has Alabama's number like Florida does. Florida has lost a home game to Tennessee and been blown out by Mississippi State. But when Bama shows up the Gator prep All-Americas play up to their press clippings. And Saturday in Gainesville the Gators out-shot, out-rebounded, and out-hustled a Crimson Tide team that looked more like the 111th than the 11th ranked team in the nation. Florida won by 85-54.

The game was essentially settled midway through the first half when the Gators broke open a close game with 15 consecutive points. Florida was able to score from outside, off breaks, inside, and on putbacks. Alabama failed to get an offensive rebound and was out-rebounded by 23-8 in the first half. Bama's last lead in the game was at 12-9. Before Alabama scored again, the Gators had moved to a 24-12 advantage.

Alabama has lost nine of the last 12 to Florida.

The rout dropped Alabama to 17-4 overall and 6-2 at the halfway point in Southeastern Conference play. Florida improved to 14-5, including a 6-2 in league play. Alabama's previous SEC loss was also to an Eastern Division team on the road, at Vanderbilt by 70-56 in the first league game of the year.

Alabama continues on the road going to Tennessee Wednesday. The game will be telecast by Jefferson-Pilot beginning at 8 p.m. EST (7 p.m. CST). Bama returns to Coleman Coliseum at 6 p.m. Saturday, February 12, against Ole Miss. Tipoff will be at 6 p.m. CST.

Alabama Coach Mark Gottfried called the first half Bama's worst of the the year as the Gators had a 46-23 lead. The second half wasn't any better for the Tide.

Florida is the leading scoring team in the SEC. When the Gators score 80 or more points they are 13-0 this year.

Although Florida stars Anthony Roberson, David Lee and Matt Walsh did plenty of damage scoring 18 points each, the real star for the Gators was freshman center Al Horford, who had 14 points and 18 rebounds.

Alabama was led in scoring by Chuck Davis and Earnest Shelton with 15 points each.

The game was decided on the backboards. Florida finished with a 46-23 advantage in rebounds. Alabama had five offensive boards, while the Gators had 19 offensive rebounds.

That was one reason Florida took 12 more shots than Alabama. Florida hit 29 of 60 field goals, 48. 3 per cent, to the Tide making only 19 of 48 for 39.6 per cent. The Gators hit 9-21 on three-pointers, 42.9 per cent, while Alabama was 5-17, 29.4 per cent. Alabama made 11 of 15 free throws, Florida 18-25.

Florida had 34 points in the paint and 20 second chance points to Bama's 22 points in the paint and only three second chance points. Bama had only nine turnovers, but the Gators scored 18 points off them. Florida had only five turnovers, Bama taking advantage of them for only five points.

Gottfried said, "The first thing is give Florida credit. They played terrific basketball. We probably contributed to them playing well, but they played well. We were a step slow to the ball. It shows in the stats, the offensive rebounds they had and the lack of rebounds by us. It's frustrating, but we have to remember it's just one game.

"We've got to regroup and get ready to play Wednesday. We've got to go play at Tennessee, and Tennessee came to Gainesville and beat Florida."

Gottfried said, "Walsh hadn't been playing well and got back on his game today."

The Tide coach said, "We've played a great schedule and haven't had a game like this. We had breakdowns everywhere. We haven't had this before, so it's not a pattern. We've been guarding people, and we didn't guard them today. We weren't very quick to do anything. We have to address it, but we're going to stay positive."

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