The third ranked Alabama Crimson Tide came out firing on all cylinders in a home game versus Florida on Wednesday night and trounced the Gators, 97-69.
Bama improved to 21-3 overall and 11-0 in league play. Florida fell to 13-11 and 6-5 in the SEC. The Tide led 52-23 at the half time break. Bama has still not allowed over 69 points to any team in SEC play.
Alabama has now started 10-0 in SEC play three times in school history; two have come under Nate Oats. And with the victory tonight, Alabama moves to 11-0 in the conference for the first time since the 1955-1956 season.
Coach Nate Oats continued with the starting lineup of Jaden Bradley, Mark Sears, Charles Bediako, Noah Clowney, and Brandon Miller. Miller got things started with a three pointer in the first 30 seconds of the game and the Tide never trailed. Sears hit a pair of three point shots of his own and Bradley hit 3-of-of-4 free throws to stake Bama to a 17-7 lead 14:22 left in the half.
Jahvon Quinerly entered the game and added two long range daggers and a couple of free throws, to push the margin to 29-11 with 10:17 left. Clowney and Rylan Griffen blistered the nets from deep, and Miller followed with two from downtown to make it 50-21 with one minute left on the first half clock.
At the break the score was all ‘Bama: 52-23.
Alabama shot 18-32 for 56% in the first, including 9-17 for 53% from three and it made 7-of-8 free throws. The Tide had 22 rebounds, nine assists, and only four turnovers. Sears led the way with 10 points followed by nine from Clowney and Miller and eight from Quinerly. Florida shot only 7-30 in the half including 0-5 from three point range and made 9-14 free throws while grabbing 17 rebounds with only one assist and five turnovers. Gator big man Colin Castleton led the way with 13 points while no other UF player had more than four.
The Tide started the second half with the same lineup but things changed quickly. After the Gators started the half on a 7-2 run, Oats was not pleased with his groups effort and replaced all the starters. Quinerly, Griffen, Nimari Burnett, Nick Pringle, and Dom Welch entered the game with 18:25 left in the game. Pringle injected a dose of energy as he always does and Quinerly ran the show to push the lead back out to 57-35 with 15:45 remaining.
Miller returned, replacing Griffen, and took over. A three pointer followed by a rousing dunk on a fast break and a no look assist to Bediako for a dunk put the thoughts of a Florida comeback out of everyones mind. Miller followed up that run with an old fashioned three point play and the lead was 69-46 with 11:59 left.
Sears found his eye from behind the arc and knocked home a couple around another high light dunk from Miller. Burnett who had been the teams hottest shooter over the last two games finally made his first and only basket with 3:25 on the clock for a 92-62 score. At that point Oats put Adam Cottrell. Jaden Quinerly, and Delaney Heard in the game to the delight of the crowd. Pringle continued to make things happen and Heard hit his second three point shot in the last two home games to finish the scoring off with a final score of 97-69.
Alabama shot 18-41 in the second for 44% including 6-17 for 35% from three and made 3-7 free throws. Overall the Tide shots 36-73 for 49%, 15-34 for 44% from behind the arc, and 10-15 from the stripe for 67%. Bama had 45 rebounds, 18 assists, seven blocks, eight steals, and only eight turnovers. Miller made 9-17 shots with 4-8 from three and scored 24 points with nine rebounds, three assists, and a steal. Sears finished with 19 on 7-9 shooting with 4-6 from deep. Quinlery continued his stellar play with 11 points, five assists, three rebounds, and no turnovers in 20 minutes of play. Clowney scored nine before leaving the game after a collision with Castleton. Bediako had eight rebounds, five rebounds, four blocks, and a steal. Bradley scored eight with five assists and four rebounds. Pringle made great use of his 12 minutes of action with four points, four rebounds, two blocks, one assist, and three steals. Both of his baskets were crowd pleasing dunks as he seemed to hoover over the Gator players. Miller was once again the player of the game and Bediako took home the hard hat award.
Florida shot better in the second at 15-33 for 45% with 4-9 from three and 12-17 from the free throw line. Overall the Gators shot 22-63 for 35%, 4-14 for 28% from three, and 21-31 from the free throw line for 68%. UF had 41 rebounds, nine assists, three blocks, seven steals, and 10 turnovers. Castleton was a predictable handful, with 29 points, 10 rebounds, two blocks, and two assists.
The biggest concern after the game was the status of Clowney. Oats said after the game that “no concussion, just a facial injury” and continued that Dr (Craig) Buetner checked him out and told me “a facial injury.”
Oats also addressed the reason Noah Gurley didn't see action on Wednesday night, “Florida plays four guards so we went small a lot with Clowney moving to the five, so with Noah, Charles, or Nick at the center position and Brandon or Welch at the four (power forward).”
Neither Oats, the staff, nor the team were pleased with their 10-point win over LSU on Saturday and wanted to come out and make a statement tonight.
Great game, great win for the team. Over the last few games, Burnett and Griffen have had the hot hand, while Sears and Miller cooled off a bit. Tonight that script flipped, as Sears and Miller combined to make 8-14 from the arc, while Burnett and Griffen combined for 2-9. One of the best aspects of this Tide squad is that on any given night any number of players can go off and be the star of the night. A deep, talented, unselfish team is a joy to watch and this has been a special season thus far.
Next up is a tough two-game road swing, and the one most Alabama fans have been pointing to since the schedule was finalized: Auburn, Tennessee.
The Tide travel to Auburn on Saturday for a 1 p.m. tip, in a game that will be shown on ESPN. And then on Wednesday, the Tide goes to Knoxville to take on the (currently) 2nd ranked Vol’s at 6 p.m. The game will be on ESPN2/ESPNU.