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Florida 61, Alabama 51: Boynton Leads Gators to a Close Win

It won't officially count as a "close win" due to the 10-point margin, but Florida won a game that was close throughout.

Andy Lyons

Kenny Boynton had a breakout game with 16 points to lead Florida past Alabama and into the SEC Tournament final with a 61-51 win.

Florida has yet to win a nominally close game, with "close game" being defined as one with a single-digit margin at the end, but this victory probably should count as one anyway. Alabama played the better first half, shooting 55% to Florida's 40% and winning the rebounding and turnover battles. The Crimson Tide pushed its three-point intermission lead out to double digits early in the second half, gaining a 37-27 advantage by the under-16 TV timeout. As you can see from that, this was not some game where the Gators blew the doors off the opponent from the start.

Bama made a fatal mistake of sending Boynton to the free throw line at the 14:56 mark of the second half. The Gator guard used his two makes there to break out of his recent slump, and he subsequently went on a tear. He personally engineered an 11-0 run to turn an eight-point deficit into a three-point lead, and the Gators put it away from there. The defense clamped down, allowing just five field goals in the final 15 minutes, and a reinvigorated offense pushed the lead just out of range to call this a "close win" by the margin-under-10-points rubric.

Boynton's 16 led all scorers, while Patric Young had 13 points with nine rebounds. Mike Rosario also put in 10 for the Gators. Trevor Releford had 12 points to lead Alabama. Trevor Lacey had 11 points that were highlighted by his 3-of-6 shooting from downtown, but he was just 1-for-7 inside the arc.

Florida will get the winner of Vanderbilt-Ole Miss in the final. It beat the Commodores 66-40 and vanquished the Rebels 78-64 in the regular season.