Jalen Hudson scores 27, leads way in Florida’s obliteration of Alabama
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — The Florida Gators didn’t have to put on a flashy offensive performance to swat down a team that went more than 14 minutes without making a basket.
Jalen Hudson scored 27 points and Florida throttled Alabama’s offense in a 73-52 victory on Tuesday night, especially during a frigid stretch of the first half.
The Gators (19-11, 10-7 Southeastern Conference) held the slumping Crimson Tide (17-13, 8-9) to 30 percent shooting.
Florida was hot by comparison, hitting 48 percent (27 of 56). Both teams are nursing NCAA Tournament hopes in the regular season’s final week, but only Florida is coming close to playing like it.
“We were very good defensively,” Florida coach Mike White said. “In basketball, obviously there’s two teams. It wasn’t all us. I’m sure they missed a few for us as well.”
More than a few. Alabama missed 19 in a row during the first half and has dropped four consecutive games.
“There were a ton of them we missed in the paint,” Tide coach Avery Johnson said. “Missed layups. Wide open 3s. The ball just didn’t fall for us.”
Hudson and the Gators didn’t have that problem.
He made 9 of 13 shots, including three 3-pointers. Egor Koulechov scored 15 points and KeVaughn Allen 13 for the Gators, who led by as many as 28 points.
Chris Chiozza had nine rebounds and four assists, tying Erving Walker’s school assist record of 547 set from 2008-12.
It was a dramatic turnaround from Alabama’s 68-50 win in Gainesville earlier this month.
“We felt like we owed them one,” Hudson said. “They’re a really great team. They’ve got a lot of good players. We were just trying to compete for 40 minutes and that’s what we did. ”
The Tide made just four first-half field goals and finished 18 of 60. Florida committed just six turnovers while forcing 15.
“They came in playing like a desperate team,” Johnson said. “We got off to a decent start but once they took control of the game they never looked back.”
Alabama’s Collin Sexton didn’t have a basket in the first half but finished with 14 points on 5-of-16 shooting. Braxton Key scored 11 and was the only Tide player making shots for a while, though they were few and far between.
Alabama flirted with season lows in both points and shooting percentage.
“Embarrassment, that’s what I felt,” the Tide’s Daniel Giddens said of the 0-for-19 stretch.
Walk-on Lawson Schaffer played much of the second half for Alabama.
The Gators capitalized on a huge Alabama drought to build a 37-18 halftime lead. The Tide missed 19 straight field goal attempts over span of 14 minutes, 28 seconds. Key accounted for all five Alabama baskets over a 21-minute span.
Hudson had just six points in the first meeting.
“We guarded him in Florida, didn’t guard him tonight and boy, he made us pay,” Johnson said.
Florida: Won its second straight after a three-game losing streak, both against teams from Alabama (including No. 14 Auburn). Entered the week in a four-way tie for third in the SEC. Has won 13 of the past 15 meetings.
Alabama: Losing streak has severely damaging its once-solid NCAA Tournament hopes. Made just 4 of 30 field goals (13 percent) before the half.
Alabama guard Herb Jones, who made his first start in 10 games, left the game with what Johnson described as a head injury. Jones is one of the team’s best defenders but played only eight minutes.
“We need him on the floor for 18 or 20 minutes,” Johnson said, adding he would be evaluated on Wednesday.
Florida closes the regular season Saturday against No. 23 Kentucky.
Alabama visits Texas A&M on Saturday.