Florida's Starts Fast, Tops Tide

Too much, too soon. An Alabama men's basketball team that had been getting off to fast starts, then fading in the final moments, got off to an uncharacteristically slow start in Gainesville Wednesday night. The result was the same as other Southeastern Conference road games over the past two years: another Bama loss.

Alabama made it respectable with a late 13-4 run against Florida, but the bottom line was the Gators winning their 14th consecutive home game with an 83-74 win over the Crimson Tide.

Alabama's fourth consecutive loss gives the Crimson Tide a 13-12 record and 3-8 SEC mark. Bama was the pre-season favorite to win the SEC Western Division and is just out of the cellar. Florida ended a two-game losing streak and improved to 20-6 overall, 7-4 in SEC play.

Alabama returns to Coleman Coliseum to face Mississippi State at 2 p.m. CST Saturday.

In recent weeks, Alabama has gotten off to fast starts. In Gainesville it was the Gators who were hot early. Florida connected on three three-point shots in the first five minutes and had a 19-7 lead to start the game. That Gators would make that 12-point advantage hold up through a halftime advantage of 47-35. Florida led by 16 points in the second half before Bama made a surge, pulling to within seven points with 2:35 to play. But the Crimson Tide could get no closer.

Alabama Interim Coach Philip Pearson said, "We've been getting off to good starts and didn't get off to a good start tonight." He said that Florida is a good team, but that Bama didn't play good enough defense. Additionally, he pointed to Bama turnovers against a Florida press in the first half as contributing to the difficulty. Both teams shot over 50 per cent in the first half, but Florida had scored 13 points off Alabama turnovers, Bama only two points off turnovers by the Gators.

Three Alabama players scored in double-figure led by Alonzo Gee with 17 on 6-11 shooting. The senior from Riviera Beach, Fla. scored his 1500th career point on a breakaway dunk in sthe econd half. Freshman JaMychal Green picked up his fifth career double-double with 12 points and a game and career-high 15 rebounds. The Tide held a 41-34 advantage on the boards.

Sophomore Senario Hillman added 15 points and sank two of Alabama's four shots from three-point range. The Gators primary edge came from behind the arc where Florida made 10-29, while Alabama made 4-14. Overall, the Tide shot 48 percent (30-62) from the field compared to 40 percent (27-67) for Florida.

Nick Calathes led Florida with 22 points and six assists, and Alex Tyus added 16 points and seven rebounds for the Gators.

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