The 8-seed Florida pulled away late to defeat 9-seed Alabama 69-61 in the first game of the second day of the SEC Tournament.
The Tide jumped out to an early lead in this one, leading by as much as eight during the first 10 minutes of the game. The Gators battled back, though, and ended up with a four-point halftime lead. UF outscored Bama 10-4 in the final seven minutes of the half to build that lead, and seven of those Gators points came at the free throw line. The Crimson Tide plainly went cold then, making just one field goal and a pair of free throws.
Alabama tied it up quickly after the half, but Florida responded with a 7-0 run to take a lead that wouldn't fall below three points the rest of the way. That three-point margin came after a Levi Randolph three-point play with 13:37 to go, but the Gators' defense and the Tide's masonry took over from there.
Bama made just six field goals in the final 13:30 of the game, and one of them was a meaningless three with just a few seconds to go. Florida sealed the game by making seven-of-eight from the charity stripe down the stretch, and uncharacteristic turn for the SEC's worst free throw shooting team.
Dorian Finney-Smith was the player of the game, scoring 23 points and grabbing 11 rebounds. Eli Carter scored 11, while Devin Robinson had 10 points off the bench. Four Alabama starters reached double digits: Randolph and Jimmie Taylor each with 15, Rodney Cooper with 13, and Retin Obasohan with 10. The fifth starter Riley Norris had eight, but the entire Crimson Tide bench failed to score a point. They collectively took just four shots.
Florida gets one more game against Kentucky before starting its NIT journey, while Alabama can go ahead and just focus on Madison Square Garden. Billy Donovan has still yet to lose to his former assistant Anthony Grant.