Florida can't keep up with Alabama

Special to Gatorsports.com
Alabama forward Herb Jones (1) is sandwiched between Florida defenders as the Crimson Tide hosted the Gators in Coleman Coliseum on Tuesday. [Staff Photo/Gary Cosby Jr.]

TUSCALOOSA, Ala.  — Keon Ellis scored 16 points and James Rojas scored 15 — each off the bench — to help carry Alabama past Florida 86-71 on Tuesday night to sit atop the Southeastern Conference.

The pair tallied 31 of the Crimson Tide's (8-3, 3-0) 36-bench points to help Alabama pull away in the second half.

Anthony Duruji sandwiched a jumper and 3-pointer around a jumper from Colin Castleton, and Florida (5-2, 2-1) used the 7-0 run to start the second half to tie it at 39-apiece.

The Tide countered with a 12-2 run over a little more than four minutes and went on to expand their lead from there. Alabama led by double digits the rest of the way.

"Yeah, that was what we talked about at halftime and all the timeouts," UF guard Tre Mann said. "We just came out slow. We weren't paying attention to details that we talked about all week in practice. We knew we had to box out and hit them and rebound and we just didn't. They took advantage of it, so you know."

Herbert Jones and Jaden Shackelford each scored 16 points for Alabama.

"The same thing it was in the first half," Mann said. "We know college basketball is full of runs. They had a bigger run than we had. We were focused for two minutes — we played hard for two minutes — and then we went right back to where we were in the first half. I mean it was just effort and energy and attention to detail."

Tyree Appleby scored 18 points for Florida, Castleton 13, and Noah Locke and Tre Mann 11 apiece.

Alabama entered the game having lost eight straight and 10 of its last 12 to the Gators at Coleman Coliseum. It was Alabama's first win at home against Florida since Feb. 26, 2006.

"I thought they played harder than us," UF coach Mike White said. "They were really good on the offensive glass, they were better at changing ends — both offensively and defensively —than we were. Thought they were a little tougher than us. Thought (James) Rojas off the bench was really good for them. And then we really struggled to keep Herb Jones and Jaden Shackelford in front of us. They got to the rim at will. We tried to make it interesting there, as you said Chris, early second half and it got away from us. Our transition defense really hurt us."

Up next

Who: Kentucky (3-6, 2-0 SEC) at Florida (5-2, 2-1)

When: 5 p.m. Saturday

TV: ESPN

Radio: 103.7-FM, AM-850

Alabama 86, Florida 71

FLORIDA (5-2, 2-1 SEC)

Castleton 6-11 1-3 13, Duruji 3-11 1-2 8, Lewis 1-6 0-0 2, Locke 4-11 0-1 11, Mann 4-11 1-2 11, Appleby 6-12 4-4 18, Payne 1-1 0-0 2, Glover 0-3 0-0 0, Osifo 1-1 1-2 3, Lane 0-0 0-0 0, Ruzhentsev 1-1 0-0 3, Klatsky 0-0 0-0 0, May 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 27-68 8-14 71.

ALABAMA (8-3, 3-0)

Bruner 3-4 0-0 6, Jones 6-16 3-4 16, Petty 5-8 1-1 12, Primo 0-4 0-0 0, Shackelford 5-12 4-4 16, Ellis 5-6 3-3 16, Rojas 5-8 5-9 15, Reese 2-4 0-0 5, Ambrose-Hylton 0-0 0-0 0, Gary 0-2 0-0 0, Heard 0-1 0-0 0, B.Johnson 0-1 0-0 0, Barnes 0-0 0-0 0, Wall 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 31-67 16-21 86.

Halftime_Alabama 39-32. 3-Point Goals_Florida 9-20 (Locke 3-6, Appleby 2-4, Mann 2-4, Ruzhentsev 1-1, Duruji 1-3, Glover 0-1, Lewis 0-1), Alabama 8-20 (Ellis 3-3, Shackelford 2-7, Jones 1-2, Petty 1-2, Reese 1-2, B.Johnson 0-1, Primo 0-3). Rebounds_Florida 31 (Castleton 8), Alabama 40 (Ellis 8). Assists_Florida 14 (Mann 6), Alabama 12 (Bruner 4). Total Fouls_Florida 19, Alabama 18. A_2,055 (15,383).