Sunday, May 27, 2018
Sports

Frazier sets 3-point mark as Florida routs South Carolina

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Michael Frazier got one directive from his Florida teammates against South Carolina: whenever he saw daylight, let the ball fly.

The result was a school-record 11 3-pointers — most ever in an SEC game — and career-high 37 points as Frazier helped the top-ranked Gators move a game away from a perfect SEC regular season with a 72-46 victory over South Carolina on Tuesday night.

"They told me if I got a crack, to let it go," Frazier said.

That was the easy part for Frazier, the sophomore guard from Tampa who frequently found himself open and made the Gamecocks pay.

"Somehow, some way we didn't express to our players that Michael Frazier can shoot the basketball," South Carolina coach Frank Martin said.

The Gators (28-2, 17-0 SEC) are a game away from going undefeated in the SEC, something no team not named Kentucky has accomplished since Alabama's 14-0 run in 1956. They'd be the first team ever to go 18-0 in the SEC.

Coach Billy Donovan preached that his players will take the same approach to Saturday's Senior Day game with the Wildcats as they have all season.

"I still think there's things in front of this team," he said. "We can't get wrapped up in the moment."

Frazier topped the school mark set by Joe Lawrence, who had nine against California in 1986. It was the most in an SEC contest; Rotnei Clarke hit 13 in 2010 and Alex Dillard made 12 in 1994, but both Arkansas players did it against non-conference opponents.

Frazier matched the highest point total by a player under Donovan at Florida. Joakim Noah had 37 against Georgia on March 1, 2006.

Frazier didn't feel anything special in warmups but knew he was onto something with his five first-half 3-pointers.

In the second half, Frazier broke things open with four 3s during a 23-5 run after the Gamecocks (11-19, 4-13) had cut a double-digit lead to 39-35.

"We were just really amazed at how open he was getting and how he kept knocking them down," Florida center Patric Young said.

Mindaugus Kacinas had 12 points to lead South Carolina.

Frazier blew past his career best of 21 points set this season against Texas A&M. He made 11 of 18 3-pointers the rest of the Gators were 0 of 13. No other Gator scored in double digits.

The Gators built an 11-point lead early in the second half, but Brenton Williams had a four-point play then a 3-pointer to get within 39-35 with 13:05 left.

Then Frazier hit a 3, Young had a three-point play and the rout was on. Frazier added four more 3-pointers over the next six minutes to stretch the lead to 62-39 with 4:42 left.

As time wound down, South Carolina students chanted "Georgia Southern," reminding the Gators of their football loss to the Division I-AA school last fall.

Florida clinched the SEC regular-season title last week when second-place Kentucky fell twice, including 72-67 here to the Gamecocks on Saturday.

The Gators' path to an unbeaten conference season started in January with a 74-58 win over South Carolina.

Florida, though, has not dominated on the road the way it has at home, winning its past four road games by an average of six points. This one proved just as tight in the first half, Frazier's 15 points keeping the Gators in front even as the rest of their big guns misfired. Leading scorer Casey Prather was held to one free throw, and Scottie Wilbekin was 1-of-5 for two points.

 
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