Florida, playing without the injured Will Yeguete and Mike Rosario, took down Alabama, playing without the suspended JaMychal Green and Tony Mitchell, by a score of 61-52 last night in Tuscaloosa. It was only UF's third road win of the season in eight true road games, and the first over a team in real March Madness contention.
The Gators' Patric Young had a monster game thanks in large part to Green and Mitchell being out. He had 19 points on 9-12 shooting with a number of easy dunks inside. It made up for a poor shooting night by the rest of the team, which went 12-40 from the field combined. Erik Murphy tied with Bradley Beal for the next highest scoring total with 14, largely thanks to going 4-8 from downtown. It wasn't a great effort by the Gators, with a 19-0 run spanning both halves essentially being the difference in the game.
While Florida was missing two solid rotation guys, Bama was down its two leading scorers and rebounders in Green and Mitchell. Andrew Steele and Trevor Releford came back from suspensions of their own, and Steele was the only member of the Crimson Tide to make it to double digits with 11 points.
Alabama is 0-2 since Anthony Grant handed down the bulk of his suspensions, with this loss following one to LSU. The Tide did beat Auburn with only Mitchell suspended prior to that. You can practically watch their NCAA tournament hopes evaporate before your eyes right now, but Grant is taking a stand against "conduct detrimental to the team" in Mitchell's case and violations of team rules in the others'. It's rare to see a coach sacrifice short term gain for the sake of discipline, so my hat's off to Grant for doing it.
If the players can learn their lessons and live up to Grant's standards, they will still have an outside chance at making the tournament with a strong finish to the year. The toughest team left on the schedule is Mississippi State, though the returns of beating that team diminished with them losing back-to-back games to Georgia and LSU. The Tide will probably have to win out and pick up a victory or two in the SEC tournament to have a real shot at an at large bid.
Florida stopped its mini-skid with the win, but it faces another road test this Saturday with a game at Arkansas.