Florida holds on for 10th straight win over Alabama, 52-50
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) Dorian Finney-Smith slammed home a dunk with 17 seconds remaining as Florida held off a second-half comeback by Alabama to beat the Crimson Tide 52-50 on Tuesday night.
Eli Carter scored 13 points and Chris Walker finished with 12 for Florida (11-9, 4-3 SEC), which snapped a three-game SEC losing streak.
With the score tied at 50, Finney-Smith put in his game-winning dunk, then blocked a potential tying basket by Levi Randolph and grabbed the rebound to preserve the victory.
The win gave Florida coach Billy Donovan nine-consecutive wins over his former assistant, and current Alabama coach, Anthony Grant. It was the Gators’ 10th straight win over Alabama.
The dunk was Finney-Smith’s only points of the game.
”It was good to see (Finney-Smith) go to the rim like that,” stated Donovan of the decisive basket. ”I like that he took the ball to the rim. He made a great play. (After that) I thought our guys did a good job on the last play defensively (to seal the win).”
Grant agreed with Donovan.
”Finney-Smith made a heck of a play attacking the rim. Give him credit,” stated Grant. ”We were looking to get something at the rim for Jimmie (Taylor) but they took that away. Levi (Randolph) was our next option. Finney-Smith made a heck of a block (to win the game). In the last two or three possessions I like our chances with Levi attacking the rim, but we didn’t finish. It was a heck of a finish (to the game).”
Rodney Cooper scored 14 points for Alabama (13-7, 3-4) and Ricky Tarrant tallied 13 points.
Alabama trailed by 13 at halftime, but opened the second half with a 19-6 run to tie it at 41 on a steal and fast-break layup by Tarrant, who scored the last seven points of the rally.
Alabama scored the first basket of the game and then Florida steadily pulled away to a 21-10 lead when Michael Frazier II made three free throws at the 6:14 mark. The Crimson Tide cut the margin to 25-18 when Shannon Hale canned a 3-pointer with 3:30 left. The Gators then closed with a 10-4 run to take a 35-22 advantage, their largest of the half, into intermission.
”They did a good job of attacking us early,” stated Grant. ”In the second half we put ourselves in a position to win, but unfortunately a couple of plays didn’t go our way. It was a tough loss.”
Cooper said, ”All the credit goes to the other team. (Florida) made plays.”
Florida: Michael Frazier II came into the game having made at least one 3-pointer in a school-record 41 games. Frazier went 0 for 4 from the field, all from 3-point range. … Sophomore center Chris Walker made 6 of 8 field goals, reaching double figures for the first time since Dec. 5 at Kansas and his 12 points were a career-high in SEC play.
Alabama: Four of the Crimson Tide’s last five games have been decided by two points; they are 1-3 in those contests. … It was Alabama’s second-lowest scoring output of the season. It scored 48 in a loss to Kentucky on Jan. 17.
SCHOOLING HIS ASSISTANTS
Billy Donovan is now 15-2 when coaching against his former assistant coaches.
Florida’s Dorian Finney-Smith had a double-double in the last 12 games and has 27 double-doubles in his career. But he only scored two points and grabbed five rebounds against the Crimson Tide.
Florida’s Jon Horford, a transfer from Michigan, is the younger brother of former Gator and current Atlanta Hawks center Al Horford.
Florida will host Arkansas on Saturday.
Alabama is at No. 1 Kentucky on Saturday.