Florida Gators Defeat Alabama In First Of Many “Must-Win” Games, 83-74

Ryan CollinsContributor IFebruary 20, 2009

The University of Florida men’s basketball team once again defended the home court, defeating the Alabama Crimson Tide 83-74.

UF, led by Nick Calathes’ 22 points, averaged about a 12 point lead throughout the entire game.

Whenever Alabama reduced the deficit to single-digits, Calathes would line up on top of the arc and swish a three-pointer. Just as usual, the majority of the Gator’s points came from run-outs and three-pointers. With the Gators coming off of two heart-breaking losses and playing at home, the outcome of this game was never really in doubt.

Sophomore G Nick “Wonderboy” Calathes had also 6 assists and 5 steals. Shockingly, this assist total reduced his SEC-leading assist per game statistic.

Junior F Dan Werner shot 2-3 from 3-point land, but is really struggling physically. Halfway through the first half, I saw Dan noticeably winded during a fast-paced stretch. I also witness Dan consistently getting dunked-on, layed-up over, and out-rebounded.

The out-rebounding was not entirely Dan’s fault though. The Gators struggled mightily on the glass, and there was one play midway through the second half where Alabama nabbed four offensive boards in a row before finally getting a foul.

Yes, that is a lot of missed shots, but in this game the Crimson Tide actually out shot the Gators 48% to 40% from the field. The offensive rebounding was so pathetic that the student section gave an emphatic ovation to a board late in the second half.

The lone rebounding bright spot came from Freshman F/C Kenny Kadji. Kenny scooped 8 boards and chipped in with 8 points. Senior G Walter Hodge, posted-up all night in Lee Humphrey’s famous corners of the O-dome, but managed to hit only 1-9 from outside.

Sophomore F/C Alex Tyus had a solid game with 16 points and 7 rebounds, as usual the benefactor of numerous run-outs and of course a few long-range jumpers. The one thing I keep noticing about Tyus is his terrible hands. During any given game his point total could be double if he were able to hold on to some of the perfect passes served up by his comrades.

The defense inside was not good. Luckily Alabama shot 10-20 from the free throw line, and was only 4-14 for three. If the Gators do not steal the ball on the opponents’ advancement out of their own half court, the opponent will likely score on the ensuing possession. However, the press does work from time to time, and Calathes and now even Sophomore F Chandler Parsons, love any opportunity to sneak in from behind and steal the ball from a point guard.

In the SEC race, LSU came from behind at Arkansas to stay two games ahead at 9-1. In the SEC East race, Kentucky was idle, but fortunately for the Gators, both South Carolina and Tennessee lost to western counterparts. This may hurt the Gators in terms of NCAA bid, but it may help to secure a first round bye for the SEC tournament.

Ultimately, the Gators control their own destiny to reach the NCAA tournament and tonight’s outcome was the first baby step. I maintain that they MUST take care of Vanderbilt at home this weekend, and MUST win at least two of the remaining four “hard” games.

This Saturday’s game against Vanderbilt is at home at 3pm and should be seen on Lincoln Financially regionally. The first meeting of these squads was a 94-69 road victory for the Gators.

Look for the Gators to continue feeling the heat of the NCAA bubble and the friendly confines of the O-Dome and outlast Vanderbilt with another barrage of three-pointers. Projection UF-78 Vandy-69 


I formulated my dream line-up:

Point Guard: Nick Calathes 
Shooting Guard: Erving Walker (OPOTB )
Forward: Chandler Parsons 
Center: Kenny Kadji 
Forward: Alex Tyus

Yes, I know, no New Jersey scrappiness or crazy hair cuts, but does anyone else have a dream line-up?