Gators dismantle Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa

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Florida coach Mike White directs traffic during the first half Tuesday against Alabama at Coleman Coliseum in Tuscaloosa, Ala. (Vasha Hunt/AL.com via AP)

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — This was the kind of effort Florida coach Mike White wanted to see heading into March.

Bodies flying around on defense. Ball movement on offense. Not settling for 3-point shots.

OK, so maybe rebounding wasn’t so great Tuesday, but in all other phases, Florida was dominant in a 73-52 win over Alabama at Coleman Coliseum. The Gators (19-11, 10-7 SEC) won their second straight and secured a winning record in league play, which should lock up an NCAA Tournament at-large berth.

Florida also avenged a 68-50 home loss to Alabama on Feb. 3.

“We kind of got embarrassed last time,” said Florida junior guard Jalen Hudson, who led three UF scorers in double figures with 27 points. “Nobody liked that feeling, especially at home. We definitely owed them one.”

It showed on the defensive end of the floor. The Gators held Alabama to 18 first-half points, a season low for points allowed in the first half, and built a 37-18 halftime lead. During one first-half stretch, Alabama missed 19 straight shots. Florida held star Alabama freshman point guard Collin Sexton to 0-of-7 shooting from the floor in the first half and just four points. It also helped that Alabama had junior center Donta Hall in foul trouble in the first half. Hall picked up two first-half fouls and played just six minutes in the first half.

Florida limited Alabama (17-13, 8-9) to 13.3 percent shooting from the field in the first half (4-30) and 12.5 percent shooting (1-8) from 3-point range.

“Being in the stance, intense, moving with the basketball, our base principles, we just carried them out as well as we have all year,” White said. “We’ve had our consistency issues and we had less tonight.”

Alabama never cut UF’s lead to below 17 points in the second half. Hudson scored 15 of his 27 points in the second half to allow the Gators to pull away. The 6-foot-6 Hudson scored in a variety of ways, going 9 of 13 from the floor, 3 of 5 from 3-point range and 6 of 8 from the foul line.

“Hudson, we basically knew his strengths and weaknesses, but he was a difference maker,” Alabama coach Avery Johnson said. “We guarded him in Florida. We didn’t guard him tonight.”

Said Hudson: “We were just swinging the ball around. We played unselfish. I was able to get a couple of shots off.”

While Hudson downplayed his big offensive night, the Gators also got 15 points from guard Egor Koulechov and 13 points from junior guard KeVaughn Allen. Senior point guard Chris Chiozza had 4 points, 9 rebounds and 4 assists, tying Erving Walker’s UF record with 547 career assists. Chiozza can break the record on his Senior Day when UF closes the regular season at home Saturday against Kentucky.

“This is God’s way of telling him to bring it back home, he’s going to break the record back home,” Hudson said.

Alabama’s defense was somewhat hamstrung by the loss of freshman forward Herb Jones, who left the game in the first half with a head injury. Florida consistently drove to the basket early and was able to finish, shooting 48.2 percent from the floor (27-56) and 62.5 percent (20-32) on two-point shots. The Gators also got to the foul line 20 times, shooting 60 percent (12-20).

Florida fell behind 7-2 early, not scoring its first basket until a driving layup by Koulechov with 17:06 left in the first half. But the Gators took the lead for good on a 10-0 run to go up 12-7. Hudson scored eight straight points during the run.

“We settled (for 3s) less, moved it more,” White said. “Ball and body movement was better. Pace was better.”

Alabama grabbed a whopping 20 offensive rebounds, outrebounding the Gators 46-31. But unlike the matchup in Gainesville, the rebounding discrepancy wasn’t as big a factor, because Alabama only converted the offensive rebounds into 11 second-chance points. Florida contested second, third and sometimes even fourth-chance opportunities that Alabama missed close the basket.

Sexton led the Tide with 14 points and 3 assists on 5 of 16 shooting. Sophomore forward Braxton Key added 11 points for Alabama, which dropped its fourth straight game.

“Give credit where credit is due,” Johnson said. “Florida came in playing like a desperate team. We got off to a decent start, but again once they took control of the game they never looked back.”

FREE THROWS: Redshirt freshman forward Dontay Bassett did not play in the second half due to feeling sick and will be checked Wednesday in Gainesville. … The Gators finished the season 5-4 in true road games. Florida also ended February with a 4-4 record. … Former UF and current Alabama assistant coach John Pelphrey coached his third game against the Gators since joining Alabama’s staff. Pelphrey’s son, Jaxson, a former P.K. Yonge baseball standout, is now a student manager for Alabama’s basketball team.

FLORIDA 73, ALABAMA 52
FLORIDA (19-11)

Bassett 0-1 0-0 0, Koulechov 7-11 0-0 15, Hudson 9-13 6-8 27, Chiozza 2-7 0-0 4, Allen 4-12 4-4 13, Stone 3-6 0-0 8, Hayes 0-0 0-0 0, Gak 0-0 0-4 0, Fava 1-2 0-0 2, Ballard 1-4 1-2 3, Krause 0-0 0-0 0, Okauru 0-0 1-2 1. Totals 27-56 12-20 73.

ALABAMA (17-13)

Key 5-10 0-0 11, Hall 0-2 3-6 3, Sexton 5-16 4-6 14, Ingram 3-6 1-2 8, Jones 0-4 0-0 0, Smith 0-1 0-0 0, Reese 1-3 0-0 2, Giddens 2-4 3-5 7, A.Johnson 1-8 2-3 4, Petty 1-4 0-0 3, Schaffer 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 18-60 13-22 52.

Halftime_Florida 37-18. 3-Point Goals_Florida 7-24 (Hudson 3-5, Stone 2-5, Koulechov 1-4, Allen 1-7, Fava 0-1, Ballard 0-1, Chiozza 0-1), Alabama 3-15 (Key 1-1, Petty 1-4, Ingram 1-4, A.Johnson 0-1, Sexton 0-1, Reese 0-1, Jones 0-1, Schaffer 0-2). Fouled Out_None. Rebounds_Florida 29 (Chiozza 9), Alabama 43 (Key, Reese 8). Assists_Florida 9 (Chiozza 4), Alabama 9 (Sexton, Schaffer 3). Total Fouls_Florida 20, Alabama 19.

67 COMMENTS

  1. A great team effort and another solid defensive outing. Hoping for one more against KY, and I am glad it will be in G’Ville. Sure would be great to get the double bye, get some rest and keep the momentum going in the SEC tourney.

  2. From earlier today:

    bf February 27, 2018 at 9:42 am
    Allen will score 5. Coach will talk to him to keep shooting. Won’t do any good.
    OVER/UNDER on number of bad/stupid/ridiculous/awkward/ill-timed shots by Kalishnakov: 5.5
    Stone and Hayes will have the hangdog faces and be in foul trouble before halftime.
    Hudson will keep smiling and playing and go 2-14 from the field.
    Michelangelo White will revert to his old ways and not give his bench any appreciable minutes.
    Coach will be standing quite a bit tonight, motionless and without expression.
    The Gators will lose their composure about ten minutes in. No, make that eight minutes.
    This stuff is so easy to figure!
    Can one find a better bet than Alabama minus 2.5? Doubtful.

    Nailed it!!!

  3. Whoo-hoo!!! Hey ‘Bama, your fans base only KNOWS FOOTBALL, BOOING at EVERY FOUL AGAINST ‘Bama, really? Sad! And ”payback is a bee-otch, and the stripper’s name is ”KARMA”!
    Hudson was straight-up balling, again! NOW BEAT THOSE little blue, agent paying players, U.K. PUSSY CATS! Go SEC Tourney and NCAA TOURNEY BOUND, FLORIDA GATORS! CHOMP-CHOMP!!!

  4. Maybe Brockway can let us know the number of Q1 wins Florida has this year. Dooley’s “…..Back Nine…..” article indicated eight and I don’t believe that is correct.

    I’ve asked Dooley to identify the eight and haven’t got a reply yet. If it turns out to be six (don’t know about Alabama) Q1 wins, as I believe, and Dooley doesn’t reply, it can be assumed that Dooley intentionally deceived.

    If eight is correct, name the games and your source.

  5. You mean to tell me that when our best players play well, we have a good shot to win? Wow…

    All the Rhodes Scholar fans for White’s head, giving dissertations about the team are finding out that when the best players play well, we are pretty good. We have been inconsistent but hopefully this wave of stellar play by Hudson combined with a more confident Allen continues!

  6. Alfred, not so quick. It was a win and a good one. Got outrebounded by about 14. Tap the brakes a little. Gators are going to have to rebound, hustle, play D, and hit some foul shots to beat UK even at home. We won tonight due to an exceptional game by Hudson, who did everything except hit FT’s. Hopefully, we can get good games from Stone, Hudson, Chizozza, Allen, and others Sat.

    • gatorlover. I would love to see Kov, Chiozza, Hudson, Allen, and Stone get red hot vs. Kentucky Saturday. The Gators would be almost unbeatable if those five play at the top of their games all at once. Has not happened much lately. It did early in the season a lot.

    • Hudson had a great game, but he wasn’t the only reason the Gators got the win. Koulechov scored 15 on 7-11 shooting, Allen played well again, the Gators shot 48% from the field and held Bama to 30%, they only turned the ball over 6 times while forcing 15 Bama turnovers, and they blocked 6 shots and had 6 steals to Bama’s 1 block and 4 steals. It would be nice if the rebounding margin was better, but this team just isn’t going to win the battle of the boards very often. Fortunately there are other ways to win games or the Gators would be struggling to reach double digits in the win column. If they shoot well, they usually win.

      • That’s this team Joe…well stated. It was actually quite simple this year…when our main guys struggled….we were average, BUT still in the games. When the main cats play well, we are pretty damn good. Mike White spoke of the consistency, and lack there of, especially after Auburn game. He may have found his rotations now, and along with Allen coming out of hibernation…it couldn’t have come at a better time.

        • Guys, when you start and play primarily with 4 guards and a forward, something has got to give, and rebounding is the big hole. But this group last night was terrific in getting back on defense and minimizing break away opportunities for “bama. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a game where all 5 Gator defenders were busting their butts and were all over the court, constantly in motion and switching off. I got tired just watching. But when you lack interior size, that is how they must play every game in order to win. Great job last night Gators.

    • They were outrebounded, but there was a big difference last night, they didn’t sit around and gave Alabama easy second chance shots, they made ‘bama earn every point they got. Maybe is me, but it seemed to me that Coach White was calling the time outs, at the proper time, and the proper combination of the right players on the floor all the time. And what I liked the most, there was no slowing of the game until about the three minute mark when the game was well in hand. They didn’t allow ‘bama to even think they could get back in the game. If we continue to play with the same discipline and urgency we shouldn’t have any with Kentucky. GO GATORS!!!!

  7. So after failing miserably in his prediction for the game, brain free decides to try to get everyone not to notice by arguing about Q1 wins. Nice try, but simply another fail. No sane person in the country has the Gators out of the tourney. The next couple games are simply about seeding. And most sane people understand the tourney is all about matchups. Get some favorable matchups and the Gators can make a run, much like a lot of other teams.

    • His role on defense is blocking shots, preferable without fouling. His role on offense is to set screens. Those roles sacrifices scoring and rebounding. When he gets a point blank dunk opportunity, the the opposing team plays hack-a-Hayes.

  8. Sexton is an overrated ball hog. They turned to that walkon w/ the perv-stache, Lawson Schaffer, and were no worse for the wear. Honestly, Schaffer knew how to distribute the ball a little bit and drive and dish, etc, something that Sexton never does. Last game vs Bama, Bama made their run against us when Avery Jr was in there playing smart basketball.

  9. The Florida State Seminoles are 9-9 against teams in the top three quadrants. The odds of getting an at-large bid with a record below .500 against that group of teams are pretty small. Additionally, they are .500 in ACC play with games @ Clemson and vs. BC remaining. Given that Hamilton is allergic to March, I don’t think its a foregone conclusion that they get in. They got some work to do.

  10. Okay, back to Q1. I relied on erroneous information but I’ll man up and say I went overboard. But, my stuff deserves getting a pass every so often, right Mac’s S B S? Once much egg is removed from face, as Arnold Schwarzenegger might say, “I’ll be back!” — maybe, kinder and gentler.