Tide Beats No. 12 Gators in Close Contest


Sunday, February 26, 2006

Ronald Steele


TUSCALOOSA – The Alabama Crimson Tide defeated the No. 12/9 Florida Gators (22-6, 8-6 SEC) 82-77 in front of a sell-out crowd of 15, 335 at Coleman Coliseum, the largest crowd in attendance at Coleman Coliseum since its October 2005 renovation. This game also marks the first time the Tide has beaten the Gators since the 2003 season.

The Tide started the first half by attaining an early lead over the Gators, going on a 6-0 run around the 15:52 mark, giving them a 13-7 lead over Florida. Bama increased their lead over the Gators even more after Alabama’s Ronald Steele hit a three point field goal.

The three pointer from Steele was the beginning of an 8-0 run by the Tide which began around the 12:57 mark, giving Alabama a 21-9 lead over the Gators. Bama got their largest lead of nine points over the Gators at the 9:09 mark The Tide would be able to maintain a lead over Florida during the remainder of the first half, going into half-time with a 35-24 lead over the Gators.

The Tide shot 4-for-6 for 66.7 percent from the free throw line during the first half. They also gave up a total of 10 offensive rebounds to the Gators during the first half.

Bama would be able to make some adjustments going into the second half, connecting on 18-out of-25 from the free throw line for 72 percent, increasing their free throw percentage by five. The Tide also slowed down the Gators offensive rebound efforts, allowing only three during the second half.

The Tide opened up the second half slow, allowing the Gators to go on an early 6-0 run around the 18:11 mark. Alabama’s Jermareo Davidson ended Florida’s run with a field goal, giving Bama a 38-30 lead over the Gators.

Florida was able to remain close with the Tide during most of the second half, bringing the game within three after Florida’s Joakim Noah made a field goal around the 10:52 mark. Florida responded to the Tide with three point field goals during the second half, hitting 8-out of-15 from beyond the arc for 53.3 percent.

The Tide would be able to maintain the lead over the Gators throughout the second half, ending the game with a five point advantage over Florida, 82-77. Alabama was led in scoring by Ronald Steele, who connected on 6-out of-13 field goals for 19 points.

“We knew it was important to get a good start,” Steele said. “We knew it was a big game and we couldn’t afford to fall behind.”

Richard Hendrix and Jermareo Davidson both recorded double doubles for the Tide, with Hendrix scoring 11 points and grabbing 17 rebounds and Davidson scoring 16 points and collecting 10 rebounds against the Gators.

“We worked hard down low and we knew it would be a tough battle,” Davidson said. “Richard stepped up as well as myself and we were able to pull it off.”

Taurean Green led the Gators in scoring, shooting five of 14 from the field (4-out-10 three point field goals) for 20 points. Lee Humphrey was Florida’s second leading scorer, shooting 5-out of-11 from beyond the arc for 15 points.

The Crimson Tide (16-10, 9-5 SEC) will play their last regular season game at Coleman Coliseum Wednesday, March 1 against Auburn. Tipoff is 7 p.m. CT.