Alabama vs Florida

Florida staves off Alabama in quarters


NEW ORLEANS -- One of Florida's biggest assets is its ability to shoot the 3. The Gators are learning how to win when they've lost their touch.

Bradley Beal scored 16 and Florida beat Alabama 66-63 in the Southeastern Conference tournament quarterfinals on Friday despite a rough performance from outside.

"This has kind of been a trend for us these last couple games of not making shots," Beal said. "So we really had to bear down on defense and guard guys."

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.

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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 JaMychal Green's three-point play with 6:52 to go.

Alabama had a chance to tie in the final seconds, but Trevor Lacey's 3-pointer bounced off the front of the rim.

Though the game was usually tight, the Crimson Tide never led.

"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 senior guard Kenny 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 games. Green had 22 points, Trevor Releford scored 12 and Lacey added 11.

"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 team."

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 got a huge game from Green, who was 7 for 14 from the field and 8 of 9 from the free-throw line. He also grabbed 10 rebounds and dished out four assists.

But that one miss at the free-throw line hurt.

Green had a chance to tie it with 20.3 seconds remaining, but his second of two foul shots rattled out and Boynton converted both of his free throws on the other end to push Florida's lead to 66-63.

Lacey got a fairly clean look on the last-gasp 3-point attempt, but it was short. The Tide shot 56.5 percent from the field (13 of 23) in the second half and outrebounded Florida 32-27 for the game.

"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."

Copyright 2017 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
Bradley Beal (23), who leads Florida with 16 points, celebrates the victory with teammate Scottie Wilbekin (5). (AP)
Bradley Beal (23), who leads Florida with 16 points, celebrates the victory with teammate Scottie Wilbekin (5). (AP)
Alabama (21-11)243963
Florida #22 (23-9) «264066
AL:J. Green 22 Pts
AL:J. Green 10 Reb
AL:J. Green 4 Ast
FL:B. Beal 16 Pts
FL:B. Beal 7 Reb
FL:B. Beal 5 Ast

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JaMychal Green
Bradley Beal
Alabama Crimson Tide
T. Releford, G365-61-213312
A. Steele, G341-20-06342
J. Green, F297-148-9104322
N. Jacobs, F273-40-03026
L. Randolph, G243-61-21118
T. Lacey, G284-92-332111
C. Hankerson Jr., G90-20-03000
R. Cooper, G71-20-01012
C. Engstrom, C40-00-02020
B. Eblen, GDid Not Play
M. Gueye, CDid Not Play
R. Obasohan, GDid Not Play
Totals 24-4512-1630131763
Florida Gators
B. Beal, G373-117-875216
E. Walker, G343-90-12417
E. Murphy, F315-114-431215
K. Boynton, G303-95-542014
P. Young, F-C273-70-05156
S. Wilbekin, G222-20-12206
M. Rosario, G101-30-01002
C. Larson, F90-00-01040
C. Prather, G-FDid Not Play
W. Yeguete, FDid Not Play
W. Pitchford V, F-CDid Not Play
J. Kurtz, GDid Not Play
Totals 20-5216-1925151466
TeamConf. W-LTot. W-LRPI Rank
Miss. State0-08-131
Texas A&M0-08-15
S. Carolina0-08-242
Ole Miss0-04-4139
Other games
UMass 77 Final
Temple 71
Iowa 75 Final
Mich St 92
MD 69 Final
NC 85
LSU 51 Final
Kentucky 60
Indiana 71 Final
Wisc 79
Minn 69 Final
Michigan 73
VT 56 Final
Cincinnati 71 Final
Syracuse 68
Baylor 81 Final
Kansas 72
Purdue 71 Final
Ohio St 88
Colo St 69 Final
Miami-FL 71 Final
Florida St 82
Louisville 64 Final
ND 50
Texas 67 Final
Missouri 81
N Mexico 72 Final