Updated: Nembhard scores 21, as Florida handles Alabama 71-53

26
1548
Alabama guard John Petty attempts to dribble past Florida defenders during Saturday's game in Tuscaloosa. [Photo/Joe Will Field]
By John Zenor, The Associated Press
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Andrew Nembhard couldn’t miss and for a while Alabama couldn’t hit.Florida’s freshman star Nembhard scored a career-high 21 points without missing a shot and the Gators pounded the Crimson Tide 71-53 on Saturday in easily their most lopsided road win of the year.

The Gators (14-11, 6-6 Southeastern Conference) held the Tide (15-10, 6-6) without a field goal for nearly eight minutes to start the game.

“We did a pretty good job of dictating some tempo defensively,” Florida coach Mike White said. “If this became a track meet, we wouldn’t have had a chance.”

His team then fought off a second-half rally attempt before it became too worrisome.

Nembhard, whose previous scoring high was 13 points, made all nine field goal attempts, including a pair of 3-pointers. He came in shooting 38 percent.

“The more I’m in the gym, I think, the more my confidence builds up,” he said. “Coach (White) likes to help me a lot.”

Keyontae Johnson had 14 points and 13 rebounds for the Gators, who shot 54 percent from the floor. KeVaughn Allen scored 13.

Kira Lewis Jr., like Nembhard a freshman five-star recruit, led Alabama with 14 points. Donta Hall and John Petty each scored 10 points.

“They took it to us from the start,” Tide coach Avery Johnson said. “They threw the first punch and we stumbled basically for the rest of the game.

“We tried to make a little bit of a run there — I think we cut it down to eight — but they were always in control of the game.”

The Tide rebounded from that opening field goal drought to shoot 44 percent. But Alabama made just 10 of 22 free throw attempts and managed only one point better than its season-low.

The Gators took a 51-34 lead on Jalen Hudson’s 3-pointer with 13:17 left. Alabama managed to cut it to single digits a few minutes later with an 8-0 spurt.

The Tide rally fizzled with missed shots on a pair of chances to pull to within five or six and Nembhard followed with a basket and free throw to effectively end the threat.

“I just feel like we lacked energy and we didn’t execute our game plan very well,” Petty said. “We had some major lapses on offense also.”

BIG PICTURE

Florida: The Gators have won eight in a row at Coleman Coliseum. Florida’s last loss there came in 2006 and that team didn’t lose again on its way to SEC tournament and national titles.

Alabama: With a home loss that won’t look good on the NCAA Tournament resume, the Tide didn’t make a basket until Galin Smith’s layup with 12:15 left before halftime, missing its first seven shots.

JOHNSON’S TAKE

The Tide coach said the team had little energy before the game and after it tipped off.

“I don’t think the sky is necessarily falling but boy it’s really cloudy right now,” Johnson said. “I’m very disappointed in myself. I’m very disappointed with our effort.”

LOCKE DOWN

The Gators have found a way to win back-to-back games without Noah Locke scoring much. Coming off a 1-of-10 shooting, three-point performance in a victory over Vandy, he missed all four shots against the Tide.

“He was a part of us getting a lot of stops,” White said.

UP NEXT

Florida plays its second straight road game, visiting LSU at 7 p.m. Wednesday night (ESPN2).

Alabama visits Texas A&M Tuesday night. The Aggies beat the Tide 81-80 on Jan. 12.

Notes: Alabama is 0-7 this year when it scores 68 points or fewer. … Entering the game, the disruptive Florida defense has forced opponents to turn the ball over on 24.2 percent of all possessions, the 10th-best rate in the country. That defense traveled well today.

FLORIDA 71, ALABAMA 53
FLORIDA (14-11)

K.Johnson 5-9 2-2 14, Hayes 3-4 3-5 9, Nembhard 9-9 1-1 21, Locke 0-4 0-0 0, Allen 5-9 2-2 13, Bassett 1-2 2-2 4, Stokes 1-4 1-2 3, Hudson 2-7 0-0 5, Ballard 0-1 0-0 0, Okauru 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 27-50 11-14 71.

ALABAMA (15-10)

Hall 5-6 0-0 10, Ingram 1-5 0-2 2, Jones 1-1 1-2 3, Lewis 4-8 4-8 14, Mack 1-8 2-3 4, Reese 0-0 0-0 0, Smith 2-4 1-4 5, Petty 4-7 0-0 10, Schaffer 0-1 0-0 0, A.Johnson 1-2 2-2 5, Norris 0-1 0-1 0. Totals 19-43 10-22 53.

Halftime_Florida 35-26. 3-Point Goals_Florida 6-19 (Nembhard 2-2, K.Johnson 2-4, Hudson 1-4, Allen 1-5, Ballard 0-1, Locke 0-3), Alabama 5-19 (Petty 2-4, Lewis 2-5, A.Johnson 1-1, Norris 0-1, Schaffer 0-1, Ingram 0-2, Mack 0-5). Fouled Out_None. Rebounds_Florida 29 (K.Johnson 13), Alabama 20 (Hall 7). Assists_Florida 11 (Allen 3), Alabama 6 (Ingram, Lewis 2). Total Fouls_Florida 20, Alabama 12.

26 COMMENTS

  1. This was a good win. Please do not think it was a SIGNATURE win and that the Gators will now run the table to reach the big dance. There was definitely some improvement on offensive movement, guys hit shots, Nembs showed he can dribble-drive to the basket and Stone was a presence. Let’s see what happens at ranked LSU.
    I am now hoping for an NIT bid.

  2. Closing out an opponent on their home floor builds team character. Tournament berth still in play. But early ouster by a team with a name like Jaspers, or a school called Crate & Barrel, or a loss to a school with home seating capacity slightly larger than GHS still in play, because as has unfortunately been repeatedly shown…it’s always something.

  3. But I want to hear again how Alabama went out and hired a proven coach. And about how UF skimped on facilities while Bama is showing how its done. The gymnastics team and the basketball teams both went into Tuscaloser this weekend and came out with impressive wins. Go Gators!!! The number 1 athletic program in the SEC…and it’s not really that close!!

  4. I could only listen to a very small part, but heard a nice dump in to Stokes with a kick out to Hudson, who made the 3. Hopefully Stokes and Bassett can start getting some double digit quality minutes. It will only help in the end. I’ve heard Coach White talking about Locke being injured, so that could have something to do with his recent lack of offense.

  5. Drove down to the game and it was sweet to see the Bama fans heading out after the Nembhard three iced things. A road win in the SEC against a team that is listed as being in the tourney is a good thing. 2-0 this week. If we can beat LSU, I think we are in the NIT for sure and potentially the NCAA if we can notch wins against LSU (once), Vandy (again), UGA, Mizzou and an SEC tourney win on top. That would put us at 19-14. Firmly in the NIT and on the bubble. If we can sweep LSU or win two SEC tourney games we are in the NCAA. Not an easy road. Winning in Rupp is pretty much impossible this year.

    • Not only was watching Bama fans exit early fun to watch, I laughed when Bama made their small run in the second half, cutting it down to 8, and when Tide fans started cheering, one of the announcers said something like he forgot there were fans in the stands it had been so quiet. Stifling D will do that on the road. And congrats to our gymnastics team for making sure most Bama fans were disappointed in their sports weekend.

  6. Gators willl get NIT invite if they are at least at .500 or better. Simple reasoning on NIT committee: Gator TV market a lot bigger than Carson-Newman or South Dakota State. I’m am predicting 18-15 after the SEC tournament. On a side note: I saw improvement on offensive ball movement, the kick-out to a wide open guard, a couple of back-door screens, some good dribble drives to the basket. Still not yet an NCAA tourney team, but in 2019-20 should be near the SEC top and in the big dance. It was a good win.

  7. This was a solid W (for a change) – Nembhard had his best game of the season so far, and several teammates made major contributions. Let’s keep the momentum rolling forward, and win several more games, to put UF in position for post-season play. GO GATORS!!!