Mar 09, 2012; New Orleans, LA, USA; Florida Gators guard Bradley Beal (23) is defended by Alabama Crimson Tide guard Andrew Steele (22) during the second half of the second round of the 2012 SEC Tournament at the New Orleans Arena. Florida defeated Alabama 66-63. Mandatory Credit: Crystal LoGiudice-US PRESSWIRE

Florida Gators 66 - Alabama Crimson Tide 63; Gators Advance With Win

The Florida Gators got exactly what they needed from their first game in the SEC Tournament – a win. Florida defeated Alabama 66-63 on Friday to advance to the next round.

It wasn’t necessarily perfect and the trio of starting guards struggled to find their rhythm yet again, but at this point in a season you’ll take a win whichever way it may come. The Gators got that win even if the prize for the victory isn’t all that appealing – a matchup with No. 1 Kentucky.

Florida was led by freshman guard Bradley Beal (16 points), junior forward Erik Murphy (15) and junior guard Kenny Boynton (14) although none of the three shot better than Murphy’s 5-for-11 performance. The Gators will need to shoot better than their 38.5% as a team against the Tide if they hope to keep up with the Wildcats.

Where the Gators did look improved was in holding on to the ball. Florida only turned the ball over five times to 15 assists. That’s definitely the type of ratio you want this time of year and if shooting percentages can pick up, the Gators may be in line for a run when the NCAA Tournament starts. Before we get there though, we move on to Kentucky. The Gators and Wildcats will tip of at 1:00 PM on Saturday. Preview to come.

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Tags: Alabama Crimson Tide Bradley Beal Erik Murphy Florida Basketball Florida Gators Kenny Boynton Kentucky Wildcats NCAA Tournament SEC SEC Tournament

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