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February 8, 2014

For once, offense bails defense out



This time, Florida didn't win because of its defense.

College basketball's No. 3-ranked team and the Southeastern Conference's best defense was mostly a no-show with its back to the basket Saturday against Alabama, a team that has now lost six of its last seven games. The obnoxious padding of low-scoring stats came to a halt.

"I thought we were bad the whole game, to be honest with you," Billy Donovan said. "It's an everyday grind to be really good, and we were not where we needed to be."

While it would be easy for Donovan to simply run his team down after giving up its highest opponent shooting percentage of the year (55.0), by nearly 12 percent, he didn't. Good friend and former assistant, Anthony Grant, was on the other end of the court as he currently occupies a scorching seat in Tuscaloosa.

So Donovan didn't shy away from acknowledging what the Crimson Tide did well.

"Alabama did a really good job of putting us in some binds where we had to guard a lot of straight-line drives, hard drives. We fouled entirely too much in the second half," he said. "Anthony did a great job. I thought his staff did a tremendous job. One thing I admire about Alabama is they've had the second-toughest schedule in the country. Those kids battle and fight every game."

He pointed to the adversity of losing two key players this past offseason as a reason for Grant's woes this year. Then he got back to talking about his team.

Entering Saturday, Donovan had two main concerns about defending Alabama. One was 3-point shooting by the Crimson Tide. The other turned out to be a waste of time, as Donovan joked. Trevor Releford, Alabama's leading scorer, shot 7 of 10 from the field and finished with 25 points. "Obviously, my concern didn't do too much." Alabama shot 6 of 11 from beyond the arc.

"There are a lot of things we need to improve after this game," senior center Patric Young said. "We'll go into the next game, fix those things and be ready to play a lot better than we did tonight."

"Thank God we had some offense," Donovan said. "That helped us."

Did it ever.

Florida's 78-69 win marked its highest scoring day since Nov. 25 against Jacksonville. The Gators had their most successful shooting day of the season at 62 percent, their previous high being 59.6 percent against Jacksonville.

It was far from perfect. Florida committed 13 turnovers and went more than five minutes without scoring at one point in the first half. All reminders of things that need to change heading into a Tuesday night date in Knoxville that begins a challenging stretch.

As Donovan pointed out Saturday, eight of Florida's 10 conference wins have come against teams that make up the bottom-half of the current SEC standings. Things are about to change in a hurry, with the Gators playing Tennessee and Kentucky on the road next week.

"I'm not overly joyous and great because we're 10-0. I think it will all shake out in the end," Donovan said. "We're going to play some teams right now where if you play defense like we did tonight, you're not going to win."

"Everybody knows we're 10-0 right now, but our next five of eight games are on the road. We're going to be tested," senior forward Will Yeguete said. "If we win them, that's when you see the kind of team we're going to be."


Official Basketball Box Score
Alabama vs Florida
2/8/14 12 p.m. at Stephen C. O'Connell Center

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
VISITORS: Alabama 9-14, 3-7 SEC
                          TOT-FG  3-PT         REBOUNDS
## Player Name            FG-FGA FG-FGA FT-FTA OF DE TOT PF  TP  A TO BLK S MIN
11 Hale, Shannon....... f  1-2    0-0    4-5    0  2  2   2   6  2  2  0  2  21
15 Jacobs, Nick........ f  2-4    0-0    1-2    0  2  2   3   5  0  0  0  0  16
00 Key, Algie.......... g  3-4    0-0    0-0    1  1  2   5   6  3  6  0  0  26
12 Releford, Trevor.... g  7-10   4-6    7-7    0  2  2   1  25  4  4  0  4  33
21 Cooper, Rodney...... g  3-7    1-4    0-0    1  5  6   1   7  1  0  1  0  34
04 Engstrom, Carl......    0-0    0-0    0-0    0  0  0   1   0  0  0  0  0   3
10 Taylor, Jimmie......    3-3    0-0    0-0    1  0  1   1   6  0  0  2  1  20
20 Randolph, Levi......    2-5    1-1    0-0    0  3  3   2   5  0  1  0  0  24
32 Obasohan, Retin.....    1-5    0-0    7-8    0  1  1   2   9  3  1  1  1  23
   TEAM................                         1     1             2
   Totals..............   22-40   6-11  19-22   4 16 20  18  69 13 16  4  8 200

TOTAL FG% 1st Half: 14-23 60.9%   2nd Half:  8-17 47.1%   Game: 55.0%  DEADB
3-Pt. FG% 1st Half:  5-7  71.4%   2nd Half:  1-4  25.0%   Game: 54.5%   REBS
F Throw % 1st Half:  3-3  100 %   2nd Half: 16-19 84.2%   Game: 86.4%    1


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
HOME TEAM: Florida 21-2, 10-0 SEC
                          TOT-FG  3-PT         REBOUNDS
## Player Name            FG-FGA FG-FGA FT-FTA OF DE TOT PF  TP  A TO BLK S MIN
15 Yeguete, Will....... f  6-8    0-0    0-0    1  2  3   4  12  4  2  0  2  25
24 Prather, Casey...... f  7-11   0-0    1-1    3  3  6   3  15  3  0  0  0  33
04 Young, Patric....... c  4-4    0-0    3-5    1  1  2   3  11  1  1  2  0  30
05 Wilbekin, Scottie... g  5-7    3-5    3-6    0  4  4   1  16  3  3  0  1  31
20 Frazier, Michael.... g  5-10   3-8    1-2    0  2  2   2  14  3  3  1  1  34
00 Hill, Kasey.........    1-3    0-2    0-0    0  1  1   1   2  3  3  0  0  19
10 Finney-Smith, Dorian    1-4    0-2    2-2    1  2  3   4   4  5  1  1  0  21
23 Walker, Chris.......    2-3    0-0    0-0    0  1  1   2   4  0  0  0  0   4
25 Walker, DeVon.......    0-0    0-0    0-0    0  0  0   1   0  0  0  0  0   3
   TEAM................                         1     1
   Totals..............   31-50   6-17  10-16   7 16 23  21  78 22 13  4  4 200

TOTAL FG% 1st Half: 15-23 65.2%   2nd Half: 16-27 59.3%   Game: 62.0%  DEADB
3-Pt. FG% 1st Half:  1-5  20.0%   2nd Half:  5-12 41.7%   Game: 35.3%   REBS
F Throw % 1st Half:  5-6  83.3%   2nd Half:  5-10 50.0%   Game: 62.5%    2


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Officials: Mike Nance, Marc Ellard, Mike Thibodeaux
Technical fouls: Alabama-None. Florida-None.
Attendance: 12520
Score by Periods                1st  2nd   Total
Alabama.......................   36   33  -   69
Florida.......................   36   42  -   78
Alabama #00 A. Key charged Flagrant 1 at 19:13(1). Bench warning charged to
Alabama at 11:23(2). Alabama #00 A. Key fouls out at 3:06(2).

Points in the paint-UA 26,UF 48. Points off turnovers-UA 19,UF 27.
2nd chance points-UA 2,UF 7. Fast break points-UA 6,UF 14.
Bench points-UA 20,UF 10. Score tied-3 times. Lead changed-4 times.
Last FG-UA 2nd-02:17, UF 2nd-00:38.
Largest lead-UA by 7 1st-05:49, UF by 15 2nd-08:48.


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