This might sound repetitive, but the Gators handled an SEC opponent at home in front of a sold-out crowd. Again.
Despite head coach Billy Donovan saying, “I thought we were bad the whole game, honestly,” No. 3 Florida defeated Alabama 78-69, its second victory over the Crimson Tide this season. The win added to its now-29 game home win streak and puts the Gators in a good position heading into a tough stretch of their Southeastern Conference schedule.
Florida (21-2, 10-0 SEC) lagged behind Alabama (9-14, 3-7 SEC) in the first half by as many as seven points but managed to head into the locker room with the score tied at 36 all. Alabama had shot 61 percent in the first 20 minutes.
The Gators offense woke up in the second half and went on an early 25-8 run that put the game out of reach for the tiring Crimson Tide. Florida ended the game shooting 31 of 50 field goals (that’s 62 percent) and made a season-high 22 assists, five coming from Dorian Finney-Smith.
Although this was not Florida’s best game defensively, the Gators did force 16 turnovers which resulted in 27 points.
Donovan was not certain if Casey Prather would play today due to a nagging sore ankle. Prather did make it onto the court and led the Gators with six rebounds. He also scored 15 points.
Chris Walker, who debuted Tuesday against Missouri, was limited again but scored four points and had another dunk.
Scottie Wilbekin led Florida with 16 points, and Michael Frazier II added 14. Trevor Releford was first for Alabama in scoring with 25 points. No other Tide player reached double digits.
Florida now heads into an important part of its SEC schedule. The Gators will open a two-game road series with Tennessee (14-8, 5-4 SEC) on Tuesday and will then head to Lexington to face Kentucky (17-5, 7-2 SEC) on Saturday night. Florida is two games ahead of Kentucky in the conference standings, but there very well could be some movement before next Saturday comes along.
Florida will next face Tennessee in Knoxville. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 11.