No. 20 Alabama Crimson Tide uses big second-half run to beat Florida Gators 83-70

Mark Long
The Associated Press
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Alabama guard Jaden Shackelford (5) brings the ball up past Florida guard Tyree Appleby (22) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2022, in Gainesville, Fla. (AP Photo/Matt Stamey)

Jahvon Quinerly and Juwan Gary scored 19 points apiece and No. 20 Alabama opened the second half with a 22-4 run en route to an 81-70 win over Florida on Wednesday night.

The Crimson Tide (11-3, 2-0 Southeastern Conference) used the huge spurt to win consecutive games for the first time in a month and notch its first road victory of the season.

Florida (9-4) whittled a 15-point deficit to 66-61 with 6 minutes to play, but Quinerly answered with a layup and Keon Ellis followed with a steal and a dunk to push the lead to back to nine. The Gators never got closer than that the rest of the way.

Florida lost for the fourth time in seven games and the first of three straight against ranked teams. It was a daunting stretch for the Gators that became more difficult when they had to postpone a game and pause practices during the holiday break because of a COVID-19 outbreak within the team.

Florida coach Mike White

Coach Mike White's group was at full strength Wednesday, but several players had returned in recent days. The Gators looked sluggish at times, no more so than coming out of the locker room at halftime.

Florida missed its first nine shots and had five turnovers — three of them by leading scorer Colin Castleton — during a woeful 6-minute stretch that turned a tight game into a double-digit affair.

Ellis finished with 13 points for the Crimson Tide, which had all five starters score in double figures. Jaden Shackelford chipped in 14, and Charles Bediako added 11 points and seven rebounds.

Castleton led the Gators with 19 points but also had four of the team's 20 turnovers. CJ Felder had 12 points and Myreon Jones added 11.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Alabama will have a chance to move up in the next AP men's college basketball poll, especially if it picks up another road win this weekend.

BIG PICTURE

Alabama: The Crimson Tide entered the game at No. 21 in the NET rankings and is the only team in the nation with three wins against opponents ranked in the NET's top 10. Beating the Gators on the road should push the Tide even higher.

Florida: The Gators were coming off a lengthy layoff because of COVID-19 issues within the program and is showed throughout. Three starters picked up two fouls in the opening 10 minutes of the game, and guard Brandon McKissic was called for his third with 1:10 to play in the half.

BILLY NAPIER'S WELCOME

New Florida football coach Billy Napier got a standing ovation at halftime. It was Napier's first public appearance in Gainesville since he was hired in early December. He said the team begins its first phase of the offseason in 12 days.

"It's not about me," Napier said. "It's going to be about our football team. It's important for you to understand that we are going to do things with class. We are going to do things with integrity. And we are going to build young men of character."

UP NEXT

Alabama: Plays at Missouri on Saturday.

Florida: Plays at No. 9 Auburn on Saturday.

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