No. 3 Florida Gators basketball (21-2, 10-0 SEC) pulled away in the second half on Saturday afternoon to pick up a 78-69 home win over the Alabama Crimson Tide (9-14, 3-7 SEC) at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, FL.
UF extended a school record by winning its 15th consecutive SEC home game, a streak that dates back to Jan. 9, 2013. The Gators have also started the season 10-0 in league play for just the second time in school history (11-0, 2006-07) and have posted the second-best start to a season in program history (24-2, 2006-07).
Florida won its 15th-straight game and picked up a victory for the 20th time in its last 21 contests. UF’s 29-game home winning streak is currently tied for longest in the nation.
OnlyGators.com breaks it down with eight quick-hitters:
It was over when: Moments after the Crimson Tide cut the Gators’ lead to single digits, sophomore guard Michael Fraizer II drained a wide-open three-pointer to give UF back a 12-point advantage with five minutes to play. UA never got back within seven points. Frazier wrapped things up with 14 points on 3-of-8 shooting from downtown with three dimes, two boards, a steal and a block.
Prominent player (first half): Senior forward Will Yeguete was Florida’s only consistent scorer in the first 20 minutes of the game, matching a season-high with 12 points by cleaning up under the basket. The Gators would not have been tied at the half had it not been for Yeguete’s early contributions. He also grabbed three rebounds, registered two swipes and dished four assists.
Prominent player (second half): Senior point guard Scottie Wilbekin scored 10 of his team-high 16 points in the second half, going 3-for-4 from downtown over the latter portion of the contest. His long-range shooting and ball handling were largely responsible for the Gators achieving a game-high 15-point lead with about nine minutes to play. He also picked up four boards, three assists and a steal.
Check out the second half of The Fastbreak…after the break.
Significant stretch: Back down two points just over a minute into the second half, Florida erupted on a 17-3 run to take a 12-point lead on Alabama with 10 minutes to play. Four players scored at least three points each on the stretch, making it a total team effort. The Gators never lost the lead again.
First half focus: Florida jumped ahead right out of the gate, taking an 8-0 lead 58 seconds into the game with Alabama failing to even cross halfcourt. The Gators hit their first six shots from the field (and first two attempts from the free throw line), forcing the Tide to turn the ball over four times as UF increased its lead to 14-4 in the early going. However, a 21-5 run by UA – including six turnovers by UF (three-straight) – gave Alabama a 25-19 lead as Florida went scoreless for 6:20. The Tide eventually went up by seven, but the Gators fought back to tie the game just seconds before halftime.
Perfect play: Running down the lane on defense trying to snuff out a fastbreak with 12:50 remaining, senior center Patric Young jumped high in the air, contorted his body and swatted a ball back across his body and past the three-point line for a score-saving block. Young was a perfect 4-for-4 from the field, scoring 11 points and notching two blocks. He passed Al Horford for 40th in the program’s career scoring list with 1,124 points and jumped over Joakim Noah for fifth in the school record book with 131 career dunks.
Standout stat: Though Florida’s defense clamped down in the second half, it still allowed Alabama to hit 6-of-10 shots from deep, which gave the Crimson Tide their early lead and allowed them to hang around in the game. The Gators have struggled defending beyond the arc all season.
What it means: On pace to give up 70+ points for just the third time this season (first at home), Florida’s defense clamped down in the second half and held Alabama to 33 points. The Gators may have struggled in the first half, but they played just like the team everyone has come to know this season over the final 20 minutes. A large part of UF’s second-half resurgence was senior F Casey Prather, who scored 15 points on 7-of-11 shooting, grabbed six boards and registered three assists.
Next up: Florida begins a stretch of four road games in five contests spanning two weeks when it travels to Knoxville, TN on Tuesday to face Tennessee. The game tip at 7 p.m. and air live on ESPN. The Gators crushed the Vols 67-41 at home on Jan. 25.