Alabama uses second-half run to win at Florida

Guard Jahvon Quinerly makes a pass during Wednesdays game against the Florida Gators.

Guard Jahvon Quinerly makes a pass during Wednesday’s game against the Florida Gators.

Austin Hannon, Staff Reporter

The Alabama Crimson Tide used a balanced team effort to earn a much-needed road win, 83-70, over the Florida Gators in Gainesville Wednesday night.

Five players scored in double figures for the Crimson Tide, including guard Jahvon Quinerly and forward Juwan Gary, who both scored 19 points each. Quinerly added five assists and five rebounds, and Gary picked up eight rebounds. Several of Quinerly’s assists led to many of Gary’s baskets.

“What we do in practice translates to the real court,” Gary said. “JQ is a very dynamic guard that can get downhill. When the guards get downhill, it makes the game look really easy for us.”

The Crimson Tide were great on the defensive end, forcing the Gators into 20 turnovers. At one point in the second half, Florida did not make a field goal for 11 minutes of game time.

“That was as good of a half defensively as we’ve played maybe all year against a quality team,” Alabama head coach Nate Oats said. “That’s a good team that’s gonna win a lot of games.”

The Crimson Tide scored 21 of their points off Florida turnovers. Alabama also grabbed 20 offensive rebounds in the game, which led to many more opportunities. Florida outshot the Crimson Tide by percentage, but Alabama was able to fire off 20 more attempts than the Gators.

Alabama also did an excellent job at the free-throw line, shooting 16 for 19 from the stripe.

“Sometimes free throws are one of those mental deals where we’re not over talking about it,” Oats said. “If you lose yourself in the game, playing the game the right way, you make the free throws. We had some guys step up and make some free throws. It’s nice to win a game at the free throw line as opposed to losing one because we’ve been in that position before too.”

Florida forward Colin Castleton was solid for the Gators, finishing with 19 points and seven rebounds. But the Crimson Tide slowed him down some in the second half.

“We had to make sure he didn’t catch the ball, and also to get the ball out of his hands quickly,” Alabama forward Charles Bediako said. “He was a big part of their offense and defense, so our biggest emphasis was to get him moving and get him out of the paint.”

The Crimson Tide jumped out to a 20-15 lead at the 10:53 mark, led by seven quick points by Quinerly.

But that’s when Castleton got the Gators going. Florida used an 11-2 run to take a four-point lead with just over seven minutes to go in the first half.

After a Brandon McKissic 3-pointer, the Gators led 33-26.

Florida took a 39-36 lead into the halftime break.

Alabama quickly flipped the game on its head. The Crimson Tide used the first eight minutes of the second frame to go on a 22-4 run to take complete control.

But as always in the SEC, Florida would make a comeback.

The Gators cut the Alabama lead to 66-61 with 6:06 left on the clock, and it looked like a very familiar situation for Alabama basketball fans.

But the Crimson Tide would put its foot down again and jumped back out to a double-digit lead to earn its first “true” road win of the season.

“I just thought our effort picked up in the second half,” Oats said. “When your defensive effort picks up, your offense usually comes around. We haven’t shot it particularly great maybe since the Gonzaga game, but we’ve played hard enough to win two big SEC games. I think our guys are showing some leadership, some maturity.”

The Crimson Tide will stay on the road, heading to Columbia, Missouri, for a matchup with the Missouri Tigers on Saturday. Saturday’s matchup between Alabama and Missouri is set for 2:30 p.m. CT on SEC Network.