Alabama's once promising basketball season continued to progress towards the land of wasted potential on Tuesday night in Coleman Coliseum, where the No. 12 Florida Gators defeated the Tide by a score of 61-52. Even though coach Anthony Grant re-instated suspended starting guards Trevor Releford and Andrew Steele, Alabama found themselves once again without the services of starting forwards JaMychal Green and Tony Mitchell. All four players were suspended last week for conduct detrimental to the team.
However, when people look back at this game the story will not be about missed players, but about a period of 6 minutes seemingly lost by the Tide. After going in to the half tied with the Gators 26-26, Alabama allowed Florida to start the 2nd half on a 16-0 run. While the Tide outscored Florida by 7 over the last 14 minutes, they were never able to get closer than the final 9 point margin of victory. Grant, a long-time former Florida assistant under coach Billy Donovan, was quick to point out after the game that Alabama, especially without it's two star forwards, is a young team and is still learning.
"In my opinion, we've got to play with more self-confidence and more team pride in terms of the way we approach every single game, no matter what goes into the game," he said. "We've got to compete every single time we step out there. We've got some young guys right now that need to learn that, in terms of the consistency of what it takes to compete at this level and be the type of players we are capable of being."
Offensively the Tide, who now fall to 16-9 and 5-6 in the SEC, was led by Steele and his 11 points. He was the only Tider to score in double digits. Sophomores Releford and guard Charles Hankerson, Jr. were the next two leading scorers for the Tide. Hankerson had 9 points while Releford had 8. Freshman Levi Randolph had 9 rebounds, a game-high.
Donovan's Gators now improve to 20-6 and 8-3 in conference play. They were led in scoring by forward Patric Young and his 19 points, while center Erik Murphy and guard Bradley Beal both had 14 point performances. Beal led the Gators with 8 rebounds, while Erving Walker paced Florida with 7 assists from his point guard position.
Next up for Alabama is a Saturday match-up against the Volunteers of Tennessee. Alabama and the Vols are scheduled for a 12:30 pm CT tip-off at Coleman Coliseum.