Notebook: Crimson Tide try to close gap with Gators


Florida coach Billy Donovan shakes hands with Alabama coach Anthony Grant in the O'Connell Center before the Gators' six straight win over the Crimson Tide on March 2.

Matt Stamey/Staff photographer
Published: Friday, March 15, 2013 at 7:48 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, March 15, 2013 at 7:48 p.m.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Alabama players and coaches know the numbers.

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Florida coach Billy Donovan shakes hands with Alabama coach Anthony Grant in the O'Connell Center before the Gators' six straight win over the Crimson Tide on March 2.

Matt Stamey/Staff photographer

Facts

Saturday's game

Who: No. 13 Florida Gators (25-6) vs. Alabama Crimson Tide (21-11)
When: 1 p.m.
Where: Bridgestone Arena, Nashville, Tenn.
Gainesville-area TV: ABC
Gainesville-area radio: AM-850, 103.7 FM

The Tide have lost their last six against Florida, including a pair of games decided by five points or fewer.

But those past failures don't have Alabama concerned or intimidated heading into its SEC Tournament semifinal matchup Saturday with the Gators.

Most recently, Alabama failed to hold an eight-point second half lead, losing 64-52 to Florida on March 2 at the O'Connell Center. Down 45-37, Florida outscored Alabama 27-7 in the final 12:34 to win the game.

“We all felt like we let something slip away,” Alabama junior guard Trevor Releford said. “We know Florida is a good basketball team, and I think everyone in this locker room will be ready.”




Florida also knocked Alabama out of the SEC Tournament last season, beating the Tide 66-63 in New Orleans. Alabama sophomore guard Trevor Lacey missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer that could have sent the game to overtime. It was UF's last win by five points or fewer. The Gators have lost six straight by five points or fewer since.

“Last year, we missed a last-second shot,” Lacey said. “No one expected us to play Florida that close, and this year we like our chances. We're going to watch the game film from Gainesville and see what we can correct and use in this game coming up.”

In the loss in Gainesville, Lacey was upset about the free-throw discrepancy. Florida went to the foul line 26 times, compared to Alabama's 10 free-throw attempts. Those numbers should level off on a neutral floor.

“They beat us at their house,” Releford said. “We're at a neutral site, now. Anything can happen.”

Alabama coach Anthony Grant did not want to get too much into discussing another matchup with the Gators. Grant is 0-5 against his mentor, Florida coach Billy Donovan. Grant worked for 12 seasons under Donovan from 1994-2006 as an assistant at Marshall and UF. Alabama advanced to the semifinals Friday with a 58-48 win over Tennessee.

“I've done nothing in our preparation for Florida,” Grant said. “Our focus has been on Tennessee. We'll cross that bridge when we get out of here.”

Frazier's fingers OK

Florida freshman Michael Frazier II said his left fingers were OK following Florida's 80-58 semifinal win over LSU.

Two of Frazier's fingers were taped together in the second half, but he returned to the floor and finished with 11 points off the bench.

Frazier said he jammed his finger going up for a rebound in the first half. He had X-rays done at halftime, which were negative.

“It kind of stung a little bit,” Frazier said. “But I got a (pain) shot at halftime.”

Frazier's 11 points were his most since scoring 18 on Feb. 16 against Auburn.

“My whole thing off the bench is trying to bring energy to the team the best way I can,” Frazier said. “It feels great to finally be able to do that again.”

Buzzer beater

Frazier was involved in a beautiful buzzer-beating play at halftime. With Florida up 40-28, Frazier made a turn-around 25-footer. The 3-pointer put the Gators up 43-28 at halftime.

Frazier credited a pass from senior guard Mike Rosario that helped set up the play.

“It was a great pass by Mike,” Frazier said. “I tried to get open and got a crack and the ball went in.”

Donovan called a timeout with 3.4 seconds left to set up the play, which started with an in-bound from Scottie Wilbekin to Rosario.

“It was just something coach drew up,” Rosario said. “I felt if I was to have the ball in my hand, I wanted to make a play. I have great faith in Frazier knocking down any shot on the floor, because he's so confident as a freshman. He did a great job of catching the ball and going up and making a shot.”

Etc.

Attendance for the Florida-LSU, Alabama-Tennessee quarterfinal session on Friday afternoon at Bridgestone Arena was 15,649. … Donovan improved to 22-13 in SEC Tournament games. … In improving to 25-6 this season, the 2012-13 Gators became just the ninth team in school history to win 25 games. .. With the win, Florida improved to 3-0 in neutral court games this season.

Contact Kevin Brockway at 352-374-5054 or brockwk@gvillesun.com. Also check out Brockway's blog at Gatorsports.com.

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