Bama Hoops Hype

RECAP: Alabama Wins in Gainesville Behind Sexton and Hall

USA Today Sports

Turnovers? Missed free throws? Foul trouble? Those things did not matter on Saturday.

Alabama ended its two-game SEC losing streak on Saturday with a clinical second half in Gainesville. The Crimson Tide defeated No. 23 Florida 68-50 behind Donta Hall’s double-double and another big performance by Collin Sexton. It was Alabama’s fourth win this season over a ranked opponent.

After trailing by six points at halftime, Avery Johnson’s team forced the hosts to shoot just 22.6 percent and outscored the Gators 41-17 in the second half. Alabama shook off a sluggish start, which included 14 first-half turnovers, and overcame an early 10-point deficit.

The Crimson Tide (15-8, 6-4 SEC) shot 52 percent in the opening period but they could not seem to take care of the ball. Florida scored 15 points off of Alabama’s turnovers but the home team could not pull away because of its own shooting struggles. And their opponents made the Gators pay.

Alabama started the second half on an 8-0 to take its first lead of the game. Florida momentarily regained the lead on back-to-back 3-pointers by KeVaughn Allen with 13:50 to go in the game. The Tide responded with a 15-2 run that spanned seven minutes and the team never looked back.

The visitors shot 55.8 percent from the floor and held statistical advantages in rebounds, assists, bench points, fast break points and points in the paint. The Crimson Tide got the win despite 18 turnovers (which is pretty good considering the first half) and somehow improved to 8-0 this season when finishing with more than 15 turnovers.

Collin Sexton got the offense going early for the Tide and stayed consistent throughout the day. The freshman shot 7-for-15 from the floor and scored a team-high 17 points. He had career highs in both rebounds and assists, finishing with 8 rebounds and 6 assists. Sexton added two steals and a block in 32 minutes.

Donta Hall had his fourth double-double of the season, finishing with 14 points and 11 rebounds. He was a perfect 7-for-7 from the field. The junior center was a big part of Alabama’s dominance on the glass, providing four offensive rebounds and leading the way to the Tide’s plus-18 advantage in rebounds.

In his first game off the bench this season, Braxton Key put together a strong performance to help lead the way in the road victory. Key still played a team-high 34 minutes in which the Tide outscored the Gators by 29 points. The sophomore finished with 13 points, 5 rebounds and 2 assists.

Alabama’s bench outscored the Gators 29-1 but it was more than just Key. Avery Johnson Jr. had his best performance of the season, finishing with 10 points. He was the only player on Alabama that finished without a turnover. He also added two rebounds, two assists and two steals.

Florida (15-8, 6-4) was led by KeVaughn Allen, who finished with 16 points. Senior guard Chris Chiozza had four steals on the defensive end but could not find a rhythm on offense. He was 2-for-9 from the floor and finished with 4 points, which is his second lowest scoring outing of the season.

The win was the Crimson Tide’s second consecutive win at the O’Connell Center but it was the first time Alabama has ever defeated a ranked Florida team in Gainesville. The 18-point margin was the Tide’s largest road win of the series.

Alabama will take its shortest road trip of the season on Tuesday night when it travels to Starkville. The Crimson Tide beat Mississippi State 68-62 earlier this season.  The rematch is scheduled to tip-off at 6 p.m. CT and will be televised on SEC Network.

Caleb Turrentine is the editor for Bama Hoops Hype. You can follow him on Twitter for in-game updates at @BamaHoopsHype.

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