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No. 23 Florida clobbered at home by Alabama

By Times wires
Alabama guard Collin Sexton (2) drives to the basket over Florida forward Dontay Bassett (21) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Gainesville, Fla., Saturday, Feb. 3, 2018. (AP Photo/Ron Irby) GVP107

GAINESVILLE — Mike White hung his head.

Florida’s coach scuffed his shoes against the hardwood, screamed into his hands and watched as his team let Saturday’s game slip away.

With Alabama on a seven-point run 11 minutes into the second half, the Gators turned the ball over and left Collin Sexton open for an easy basket. It probably wasn’t the final dagger in the No. 23 Gators, but it felt like it was.

Alabama extended its run to 11 points to zap any hopes of a Florida comeback in a 68-50 loss to the Crimson Tide. The final score was unthinkable in the opening minutes.

"We basically looked like we had never practiced before in our lives offensively in the first half," Alabama coach Avery Johnson said.

The Gators (15-8, 6-4 SEC) dominated early and built a 10-point lead behind an energetic defense. They entered the break up by six.

"The only conversation at halftime," White said, "was to maintain that level of intensity."

Johnson, meanwhile, ripped into his players in the locker room, and they responded in resounding fashion. The Tide scored the first eight of the second half and later used a 15-2 run to open a double-digit lead.

"The halftime talk was a great talk," said Donta Hall, who had 14 points and 11 rebounds for Alabama. "We came out with a better mind-set, more focus. … Crashing the boards, getting easy looks, finding the open man."

Sexton had 17 points, eight rebounds and six assists for the Tide (15-8, 6-4 SEC), which outscored the Gators 41-17 in the second half.

"The defensive performance we gave in the second half was discouraging, to say the least," White said.

Florida lost its third straight SEC game, the first time that has happened since the end of White’s first season in 2016. It likely won’t be ranked Monday. "If we don’t make wholesale changes, we’re going to continue to have peaks and valleys," he said. "We’ll continue to be average."