#10 Florida began the conference portion of their season on a good note tonight, defeating South Carolina 74-58.
This win means more than just a 1-0 SEC mark. Florida (12-2) has now tied their school record for consecutive home wins at 24, which was set between 2006 and 2007. The Gators will have to wait until Tuesday when they play Georgia at home to have a shot at breaking the record.
The Gators both started and finished strong, opening the game with a 14-1 run and allowing only 11 points in the final five minutes. They also shot 70.8 percent on free throws, going 17 for 24 in their fourth-best performance of the season.
However, South Carolina (7-7) out-rebounded the usually dominant Gators 28-25. Florida had been king in that stat lately, out-rebounding their last four opponents by double digits.
Unfortunately, Scottie Wilbekin, who led the Gators with 17 points, was injured late in the second half when he sprained his right ankle after coming down from a layup. He had to be carried off the court and did not return to the game. According to Billy Donovan, Wilbekin is questionable for the Arkansas game on Saturday. He suffered the same injury Dec. 2 in the one-point loss to Connecticut, but was able to play eight days later against Kansas.
Casey Prather and Patric Young contributed 13 points each for Florida and Tyrone Johnson led South Carolina with 12.
Florida will next face Arkansas (11-2) in Fayetteville. Tip-off is set for 1 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 11.