No. 22 Florida 66, Alabama 63
Alabama’s JaMychal Green was terrific on Friday, finishing in
the paint, grabbing rebounds, dishing out assists and generally
being a huge pain for Florida.
There’s just one free-throw attempt he’d like to have back.
The Crimson Tide lost 66-63 to the Gators in the Southeastern
Conference tournament quarterfinals, failing to convert two chances
to tie the game in the final seconds.
Green led Alabama with 22 points while Trevor Releford scored 12
and Trevor Lacey added 11. Green had an opportunity to tie it with
20.3 seconds left but missed the second of two free-throw
”I knew I had to step up and make it,” Green said.
”Unfortunately, it rimmed out.”
Lacey also had a fairly clean 3-point look at the buzzer, but it
bounced off the front of the rim.
It was a tough ending for Alabama and especially Green, a
6-foot-8 senior forward who was 7 for 14 from the field and hit his
first eight free throws before the crucial miss at the end. He also
added 10 rebounds, four assists and a blocked shot.
Erik Murphy had 15 points and Kenny Boynton scored 14 for the
Gators, who shot just 38.5 percent (20 of 52) from the field,
including 33.3 percent (10 of 30) from 3-point range.
The Gators had a 45-33 lead with 12:50 remaining after Murphy
hit a pair of free throws, but Alabama responded with a 16-4 run to
tie it at 49 on Green’s three-point play with 6:52 to go.
Though the game was usually tight, the Crimson Tide never
”I think this time of year, you’ve got to find ways to advance
and move on and we did,” Florida coach Billy Donovan said.
Florida (23-9) will face top-ranked Kentucky on Saturday in the
semifinals. The Gators lost to the Wildcats twice this season, but
hope their postseason-tested team will be up for the challenge.
Much of Florida’s roster was around last season, when the Gators
advanced to the Elite Eight.
”Our team, we’re mature,” said Boynton, who hit two late free
throws to seal the victory. ”We’ve been through everything, played
the best teams throughout this year, so I think we’ll come out
tomorrow and be ready to play.”
Alabama (21-11) lost for just the second time in seven
”My teammates did a great job of finding me,” Green said. ”I
think we did a great job of just passing the ball and playing as a
It’s been a struggle of late for Florida, which lost its last
three regular-season games to Georgia, Vanderbilt and Kentucky.
And this one wasn’t much different – except for the final
result. The Gators shot just 32 percent (8 of 25) from the field in
the first half and led 26-24 at the break after Alabama’s Levi
Randolph hit a long 3-pointer at the buzzer.
Alabama’s defense had something to do with Florida’s offensive
woes. The Crimson Tide’s bruising, grind-it-out style is completely
opposite of the Gators, who like to run, shoot and turn the game
into a constant sprint.
It wasn’t until Erving Walker’s outburst early in the second
half that the Gators were finally able to get some separation. The
5-foot-8 point guard scored seven points in less than five minutes,
shrugging off Alabama’s physical guards and consistently getting
into the lane, where he could finish at the rim or find another
shooter around the 3-point line.
For a while, it looked as if the Gators looked would cruise, but
Alabama erased a 12-point deficit in less than six minutes.
The Tide shot 56.5 percent (13 for 23) from the field in the
second half and outrebounded Florida 32-27 for the game.
Lacey got a fairly clean look on the last-gasp 3-point attempt,
but it was short.
”I thought we got a good look,” Alabama coach Anthony Grant
said. ”I thought it had a chance to go in, but unfortunately, it
didn’t go in our favor.”
Now Alabama will have to wait before finding out if it will
advance to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2006.
”Obviously, we feel good about what we have been able to
accomplish over the course of the season,” Grant said. ”We just
have to wait and see what happens.”
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