Gators move to 10-0 in SEC


Posted Feb 8, 2014


GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Scottie Wilbekin scored 16 points, leading all five starters in double figures, and No. 3 Florida beat Alabama 78-69 Saturday for its 15th straight victory. The Gators handled the Tide for the second time in 16 days and extended a school record for consecutive home wins to 29.

Florida (21-2, 10-0 Southeastern Conference) shot a blistering 62 percent from the floor and finished with a season-high 22 assists.

Coach Billy Donovan's team trailed by seven late in the first half before taking over the game in the paint and in transition. That opened things up on the perimeter for Wilbekin and Michael Frazier II.

Wilbekin was 3-for-5 shooting from behind the arc, making all three in the second half. Frazier was 3 for 8 from the 3-point range.

Frazier finished with 14 points, joining Wilbekin, Casey Prather (15), Will Yeguete (12) and Patric Young (11) in double figures. It was the first time all five of Florida's starters topped 10 points since Nov. 21, 2013 against Middle Tennessee.

Trevor Releford led the Tide (9-14, 3-7) with 25 points on 7-for-10 shooting. He was 4 for 6 from behind the 3-point line and perfect on seven free throws.

Releford scored 16 points in the first half, carrying Alabama for much of the afternoon. His 3-pointer put the Tide up 28-21, silencing the sold-out O'Connell Center.

Alabama shot 61 percent in the opening half and went 5 for 7 from behind the arc, giving the defensive-minded Donovan plenty to talk about at halftime. The Gators responded with an effective press, made 3-pointers and a heavy dose of post play that seemingly wore down the Tide.

Florida went on a 25-8 run that turned a deficit into a double-digit lead. The Tide has lost four straight and six of seven.

Chris Walker, Florida's highly touted freshman who became eligible this week, played sparingly in his second collegiate game. He finished with four points and a rebound.

For as dominant as Florida has been recently, the team's toughest test comes next week. The Gators play at Tennessee on Tuesday night and then at Kentucky on Saturday. Those games could go a long ways to determining how Florida finishes in the conference and what kind of seed Donovan's team lands in next month's NCAA tournament.



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