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Comeback Bid Comes Up Short as Alabama Men’s Basketball Falls to No. 23 Florida, 80-67

Photo by UA Athletics
Photo by UA Athletics

The Alabama men’s basketball team’s comeback effort fell short on Tuesday night, as the No. 23 Florida Gators knocked off the Crimson Tide, 80-67, in Coleman Coliseum. The loss snapped a season-long four-game winning streak for the Tide, which fell to 9-6 on the campaign and 2-1 in Southeastern Conference play.

Freshman Braxton Key recorded a career-high 24 points – the first 20-point performance by a Tide player this season – to go along with five rebounds in a season-high 35 minutes of action.

Alabama came back from an 18-point first half deficit and held the lead for most of the second half. However, with the Tide leading 59-56 with 7:33 remaining, Florida stepped up its defensive pressure which led to a game-ending 19-6 run, resulting in the final score.

“Tough night for us tonight,” Alabama head coach Avery Johnson said. “We didn’t get off to a great start, but we did a decent job of finishing the first half to cut the lead to seven. Then we came out with a great plan in the second half. We played well on both ends of the floor, we defended, we scored, we had great shot selection. We go up by six then they make a three and cut the lead back down to three, then they went on a run at the end to finish the game pretty strong. They did a good job of pressuring us tonight into some careless turnovers, but those are all correctable errors. Also, we have to do a better job of finishing our shots in the paint and making our free-throws. “

After Alabama (9-6, 2-1 SEC) started the game with four unanswered points, Florida (13-3, 4-0) went on an 11-0 run to take an 11-6 lead. The Gators then used a 14-1 run later in the half to extend their lead to 34-16 with 4:50 remaining in the opening stanza. During the run, the Tide failed to make a field goal for over seven minutes and did not score in over five.

The Tide would respond by outscoring the Gators 15-4 over the final four-plus minutes, highlighted by junior Ar’Mond Davis’ three-pointer from just off the logo at midcourt as the shot clock was winding down. Alabama carried its momentum into the second half, starting the period by outscoring Florida 15-7,  to result in a combined 30-11 run that gave the Tide a 48-45 lead with 13:06 left to play.

Alabama led by as many as six points, 53-47, with 10:37 remaining before Florida turned up its defensive pressure. Clinging to a narrow 59-56 lead with 7:33 left to play, the Tide finished the contest by committing six turnovers and hitting just two of its last five shots from the floor.

Key’s 24 points were a game high while sophomore Donta Hall added 12 points and eight rebounds before fouling out with just under six minutes remaining. Davis added 10 points off the bench.

Alabama won the rebounding battle for the 11th time in 15 games this season, outworking the Gators on the glass, 37-30. The Tide finished with 18 turnovers, which resulted in a big 27-10 edge for Florida in points off turnovers. Alabama was just 16-of-32 from the free throw line for the game.

Alabama travels to Baton Rouge, La., on Saturday, Jan. 14 to take on the LSU Tigers. Tipoff is set for 2:30 p.m. CT on SEC Network.

Best of Tide 99.1

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