No. 14 Gators beat Alabama, clinch share of SEC

Posted March 01, 2011, at 9:07 p.m.
Last modified March 01, 2011, at 10:06 p.m.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Chandler Parsons scored a season-high 19 points, Vernon Macklin also had 19 and No. 14 Florida used a second-half surge to roll Alabama 78-51 on Tuesday night.

The Gators clinched at least a share of the Southeastern Conference championship and can claim their fifth outright league title with a win at No. 21 Vanderbilt on Saturday. Florida (23-6, 12-3) also would win the league if Georgia beats Alabama earlier Saturday.

The Crimson Tide (19-10, 11-4) needed a road win to improve their chances of making the NCAA tournament. Now, the Tide probably need to win the SEC tournament to earn the league’s automatic bid.

Alabama probably would like to avoid seeing the Gators again in the postseason.

Florida dominated every aspect of the second half, using a 10-0 run to build a double-digit lead and then pouring it on with 3-pointers and dunks.

Parsons, Macklin and Alex Tyus were right in the middle of it — on “Senior Night” no less. Tyus finished with 11 points and six rebounds. Parsons had 11 rebounds.

Kenny Boynton added 14 points on 4-of-8 shooting from 3-point range, and Erving Walker came alive in the second half with two 3s. Walker had eight points and seven assists.

Trevor Releford led the Tide with 17 points, while Tony Mitchell added 14. Leading scorer JaMychal Green finished with 10 points, missing 13 of 19 shots.

After consecutive hook shots by Macklin, the Gators led 39-36 early in the second half. Then, everything went right during a 10-minute stretch that turned a close game into a laugher.

Boynton and Parsons sandwiched 3s around Patric Young’s dunk, and Parsons added two free throws to make it an 11-0 run. The Gators were just getting started.

Parsons hit another 3, and Macklin followed with a nifty alley-oop and a powerful dunk. Walker got into the barrage with two 3s, and Florida got the O’Connell Center really rocking when Tyus converted a three-point play and Boynton followed with another 3.

The Gators finished 8 of 21 from behind the arc — really impressive considering they missed their first 10 shots from that range.

The only thing remaining in the final minutes was getting the seniors — Parsons, Macklin and Tyus — standing ovations. Coach Billy Donovan took it a step further by getting injured senior Adam Allen in the game for the final few seconds. Allen hasn’t played since his freshman year because of knee trouble. He endured three operations and had planned to seek a medical hardship for a fifth year.

But Allen said Monday he was giving up basketball. No wonder he had such a huge smile as he dribbled out the clock, setting off a championship celebration.

Florida was fortunate to keep the game close in the first half. The Gators missed 13 of their first 15 shots, misfired on their first 10 3-pointers and missed half of their 12 free throws. Walker and Macklin finished the first half on the bench after picking up two fouls each.

The Gators shot 37 percent from the field in the first 20 minutes, but made up for the shooting woes with pressing defense, which helped force 11 turnovers, and eight offensive rebounds.

They were much better after the break. They made 26 of their final 37 shots — against the SEC’s best defense.

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