Nashville, TN – Gainesville, FL (SportsNetwork.com) - Scottie Wilbekin needed just seven shots to lead a balanced Florida attack with 16 points, as the third-ranked Gators took down Alabama, 78-69, on Saturday from O'Connell Center.
Wilbekin shot 5-of-7, one game after going for a career-high 19 on just five shots in a win over Missouri. Casey Prather and Michael Frazier II went for 15 and 14 points, respectively, as Florida (21-2, 10-0 SEC) extended its winning streak to 15 games for the fifth time in program history.
Will Yeguete added 12 points and Patric Young made 4-of-4 for 11 in the triumph. The Gators school record of consecutive wins at home reached 29 games.
"It was not a good defensive performance," Young said. "We gave up too many easy baskets and let them score too many points. They're a good team and did a lot of things we couldn't handle at times, but thankfully we were able to pick it up in the second half."
Trevor Releford was the lone bright spot for Alabama (9-14, 3-7), which lost its fourth straight game. Releford netted a game-high 25 points with four steals in the setback.
Young's sweeping hook got things started for Florida, which then pressured Alabama into a turnover in the backcourt leading to an uncontested Yeguete layup. Algie Key was then assessed a flagrant-1 foul for swinging an elbow into the face of Wilbekin. Wilbekin made both free throws and Frazier came off a curl and knocked down a jumper from the right elbow. Less than a minute in the Gators led 8-0.
Prather's baseline drive and dunk made it 12-2, and before the first media timeout all five Gator starters reached the scoring column.
Alabama finally got comfortable five minutes in and clamped down defensively, forcing six turnovers during a 21-5 run that saw the Tide take a 28-21 lead.
The Gators solved Alabama's zone late in the half, with the beneficiary being Yeguete. The senior big man made three straight layups to close out the period, Levi Randolph missed a pull-up jumper at the other end and the two teams were knotted at 36-36 at the break.
Florida's ball movement was the difference in the second half. The hosts easily handled Alabama's pressure, assisting on the first eight made baskets of the frame. Nick Jacobs' jumper six minutes in cut the Gators edge to 50-44, but Chris Walker's dunk highlighted a 6-0 spurt on three quick transition buckets.
"Early in the second half, they were able to get out in transition because we were struggling offensively," Alabama coach Anthony Grant said. "They're at their best when they're in a transition."
Later, Frazier stripped Releford in the backcourt and swooped in for a layup at 8:48. It was 64-49 at that point, and the Gators led by at least seven the rest of the way.
Florida improved to 40-19 against Alabama at home and 10-0 under Billy Donovan ... The Gators have won nine in a row over the Crimson Tide ... Florida hasn't lost since Dec. 2 ... Alabama has not won a true road game yet this season.