COLUMBIA, S.C. – Erving Walker scored a season-high 25 points and No. 17 Florida used a quick start and some hot shooting to put away South Carolina 79-60 Wednesday night.
The Gators (19-5, 8-2 Southeastern Conference) led 9-0, were up by 11 at the half and shot better than 55 percent, their best showing since November. They maintained their large lead atop the SEC Eastern Division and gave Billy Donovan his 350th victory as the school's coach.
Florida has had its struggles with South Carolina the past few seasons, losing three of their previous five meetings, including a 72-69 defeat at the O'Connell Center earlier this year.
But Walker, Vernon Macklin and Chandler Parsons combined to shoot 20 of 28 against the Gamecocks (13-9, 4-5).
Bruce Ellington had 14 points to lead South Carolina, which has lost four of its last five.
Macklin scored 16 points and Parsons had 14 points and 12 rebounds for his third consecutive double-double. Parsons also had a career-high eight assists.
The Gators, who returned to the national rankings this week, made sure they didn't make the same mistakes as a month ago against South Carolina, when they trailed by double digits in the opening half and couldn't catch up.
Florida ran out to a 9-0 lead as the Gamecocks missed their first eight shots.
Each time South Carolina cut into the margin, the Gators had an answer. When Sam Muldrow's basket brought the Gamecocks to 13-11, Florida followed with seven consecutive points capped by Boynton's long 3-pointer.
South Carolina rallied to 30-24 on a 3-pointer by reserve RJ Slawson with 3:25 left in the half. But the Gators put together a dominant closing run to take a 38-27 lead at the break.
The Gators did just about anything they wanted in the opening half, shooting better than 60 percent (17 of 28).
Macklin was unstoppable inside as he hit all of his shots for 14 first-half points.
Florida's touch continued after the break as they made six straight shots during one point to lead 53-35 with 14:03 left.
While the Gators thrived, South Carolina struggled. Take away Ellington's 5-of-10 performance from the field and the rest of the Gamecocks finished 6 of 18.
Maybe South Carolina coach Darrin Horn could've called on star running back Marcus Lattimore, who attended the game and knows about scoring on the Gators. Lattimore ran for 212 yards and three touchdowns in the Gamecocks' 36-14 win at Florida last November.