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March 16, 2013
Florida advanced to the finals of the 2013 SEC Tournament on Saturday after taking down Alabama 61-51 in a semifinal showdown. The Gators fought back from a 10-point second-half deficit to win by as many points and put together a complete performance over the final 15 minutes of the game thanks to the leadership of a senior.
IT WAS OVER WHEN: Junior forward Casey Prather continued Florida's second-half surge by laying in a missed three-pointer by senior F Erik Murphy. The basket increased the Gators' lead to a game-high 10 points with three minutes to play, and UF held on to advance to the finals.
HE STOLE THE SHOW: Senior guard Kenny Boynton struggled mightily at the start of the game, going 0-for-3 from the field and 0-for-1 from downtown. Coming off of a 1-for-7 and 0-for-3 performance in the SEC quarterfinal showdown against LSU, Boynton looked like he had no rhythm whatsoever. Then, all of a sudden, Boynton exploded on a personal 11-0 run that was part of a huge 15-0 stretch that reversed Florida's fortunes. The Gators went from down eight to ahead five and used Boynton's explosive stretch to fuel their second-half surge. He finished with a game-high 16 points on 6-of-12 shooting and made two of UF's three triples on the afternoon.
THIS STAT DOESN'T LIE: The only reason Alabama was even in Saturday's contest was Florida's shooting struggles. Though the Gators shot much better in the second half, UF still finished 3-of-17 from beyond the arc (17.6 percent) for the game. A couple more makes and Florida likely never sees a double-digit deficit in the contest and probably dominates the game.
WHAT A PLAY: Highlight plays were few and far between in Saturday's showdown, but one made basket in particular proved that the Gators were not going to go down without a fight. After hitting two free throws and grabbing a defensive rebound on the other end, Boynton charged down the court for a coast-to-coast layup with 14:25 remaining. Though UF still trailed by four, he followed that basket up with a dagger trey and another layup that put Florida ahead 38-37, a lead it would never relinquish.
THIS MATCHUP PROVED KEY: Though it looked like he would struggle to be effective early in the contest, junior center Patric Young turned on his jets in the second half and absolutely dominated the Crimson Tide's frontcourt. Young finished with 13 points and a game-high nine rebounds and made a number of high-effort plays in the second half that paid big dividends for the Gators.