By JOHN ZENOR, Associated Press
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — Patric Young took advantage of Alabama's suspension-depleted frontcourt with 19 points and No. 14 Florida beat the Crimson Tide 61-52 Tuesday night.
The Gators (20-6, 8-3 Southeastern Conference) scored the first 16 points of the second half to turn a tie score into a comfortable win after losing two straight games.
The Crimson Tide (16-9, 5-6) has lost two in a row without top two scorers and rebounders JaMychal Green and Tony Mitchell, who are on indefinite suspension. Guards Trevor Releford and Andrew Steele did rejoin the team and the starting lineup after being held out for the LSU game.
Young was hard to stop inside against the mismatch in the 22 minutes he was on the court. He scored 12 in the second half despite heading to the bench with four fouls halfway through and fouling out late. He finished 9 for 12 from the field. Erik Murphy and Bradley Beal scored 14 points apiece. Murphy made 4 of 7 3-pointers while Beal had eight rebounds, three assists, two blocks and two steals.
Steele led Alabama with 11 points. Charles Hankerson added nine points while Releford scored eight, all in the first half, and had three steals.
The Tide had to turn to little-used big men Carl Engstrom and Moussa Gueye after freshman starter Nick Jacobs drew two quick fouls. Jacobs only played seven minutes.
It proved a post mismatch, but the Gators also forced 18 turnovers, including some on errant passes and miscommunications. The 6-foot-5 Levi Randolph helped Alabama to a 34-32 rebounding edge with nine boards.
Florida wasn't at full-strength either with key subs Will Yeguete (concussion) and Mike Rosario (bruised hip) both out.
The Gators came out firing in the second half.
Murphy opened with a 3-pointer and Young hit four baskets inside, including a pair of dunks during the Gators' 5-minute surge that put them up 42-26 and forced Tide coach Anthony Grant to burn a pair of timeouts against his mentor and former Gators boss, Billy Donovan.
Florida started the half 7-of-8 shooting while Alabama missed its first 10 shots and couldn't climb back to within single digits until the game's final basket.
Steele hit Alabama's first basket of the half with 11 minutes left.
The Gators didn't need a big game from leading scorer Kenny Boynton, who finished with nine points, but didn't have a field goal in the first 25 minutes.
The SEC's top scoring team also didn't need to approach its 78.8-point average either against a Tide team that is second in the league in scoring defense, but had few consistent scoring threats left.
Releford and Murphy traded 3-pointers late in the first half and the teams went into the locker room tied at 26-26, the lowest scoring first half of the season for the Gators.
They started out cold, making just 8 of 26 shots and 3 of 12 3-pointers before halftime.
Florida, coming off losses to Kentucky and Tennessee, heated up for the final 20 minutes by making half of the team's 26 attempts.
Alabama finished just 4 of 16 from 3-point range and 12 of 24 from the free throw line.
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