Florida made it look easy

As is usually the case when Alabama's men's basketball team goes on the road, it was no contest. Bama cannot contest a good team away from Tuscaloosa. <br><br>In Gainesville, against Florida, currently ranked number one in the nation and coming off a thrashing at the hands of Kentucky, the Crimson Tide was no match. The Gators held off a minor Alabama rally late in the first half and cruised to a 75-56 win.

The loss dropped the staggering Crimson Tide to 13-7 overall and a dismal 3-6 in Southeastern Conference play. Bama has now lost seven of its last 10 games. The Tide was a near-unanimous pick to win this year's SEC championship. Incredibly, Alabama has continued to be ranked, although two losses this week (Alabama also lost at Arkansas this week) should knock Bama out of the top 25. Alabama was ranked number 22 by the Associated Press and 21 by ESPN and USA Today going into Saturday's game.

It is now extremely unlikely that Alabama will make the NCAA Tournament. No SEC team has ever finished with a losing record in conference play and made it into the NCAA Tournament without winning the conference tournament. It is embarrassing to remember that Alabama was ranked number one in the nation earlier this season.

The good news is that Alabama returns home for its next game, which is next Saturday at 7:30 p.m. CST. The bad news is that Alabama will be hosting Auburn, which handed Alabama a 77-68 loss earlier this year.

As has been the pattern for this year's Tide team, Alabama quickly fell behind to Florida. The Gators had a 16-3 lead before the Tide made its second field goal. It looked like the rout might be on midway through the first half, but a nice Tide rally -- led by freshman Kennedy Winston -- cut the lead to only three points at 23-20 before the Gators ran off 10 straight points. It was 38-24 Florida's way at halftime.

Alabama never led and the game was never tied after Bama had a quick turnover and Florida a quick uncontested layup in the opening seconds.

Alabama continues to be a very poor shooting team. And as seems to be the case every game, Florida had one of its better shooting games against Alabama, an indication that Bama's defense is as much a weakness as its offense.

Alabama hit only 32.8 per cent from the field, while Florida was good on 47.3 per cent of its field goals. On three-point shots, Alabama managed to connect on only two of 18 shots, 11 per cent. Florida hit the same percentage from behind the three-point stripe as it did overall from the field. Alabama had more free throw opportunities and made 16 of 23. Florida made all 14 of its opportunities.

Erwin Dudley led Bama in scoring with 15 points. He also had nine rebounds. Winston and Mo Williams had 13 each for the Tide.

Alabama had a slight rebounding edge, 37-34.

Alabama Head Coach Mark Gottfried said, "I'm proud of our guys. They are playing as hard as they can play. I told them if they will play that hard in the final seven games, I like our chances.

"At some point the shots are going to fall for us. We just can't seem to get the ball in the basket. If we keep playing hard, things will go our way."

Gottfried also gave credit to Florida as being a great team. "They've got a lot of weapons," the Tide coach said.


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