Bama Beats Florida in Round 1 SEC Tourney...
Mykal Riley's 3-point barrage ended Florida's three-year run as SEC tournament champions, leaving the Gators' NCAA tournament hopes in doubt.
The Crimson Tide (17-15) was dominant in the first half but had a 28-point lead shrink to 6 before recovering to beat Florida 80-69 Thursday night in the first round of the Southeastern Conference tournament.
Alabama ended Florida's streak of 18 consecutive postseason victories over two years while giving the Gators (21-11) their first SEC tournament loss since the 2004 championship game. Florida is in danger of missing the NCAA tournament after winning two straight national titles.
Riley tied the school record with eight 3-pointers and finished with 26 points. The senior guard snapped Florida's momentum with back-to-back 3s after the Gators pulled to 57-51 with 9:02 left.
Alabama will face Western Division top seed Mississippi State in Friday's quarterfinals.
Richard Hendrix added 22 points for Alabama, while Marreese Speights led Florida with 15.
Alabama had 14-0 and 11-0 runs in the first 11 minutes to lead by 25 before Florida reached double figures. The Crimson Tide took their biggest lead, 42-14, with 4 minutes left in the first half, then struggled to put the game away.
The loss leaves Florida with a nervous wait until Sunday, when the NCAA tournament field is announced. Florida has played in nine straight NCAA tournaments.
Florida won at least 20 games for the 10th straight season, but it has four straight losses and a shaky RPI ranking at No. 65.
Florida suffered a dramatic reversal of its domination while winning the last three SEC tournaments. The Gators beat Georgia, Mississippi and Arkansas by an average of almost 20 points on the way to the 2007 championship in Atlanta.
Al Horford, a star of last year's Florida team, attended the game but all he could do was watch. He's now a rookie star with the NBA's Atlanta Hawks.
Florida beat Alabama 90-83 in Tuscaloosa on Jan. 8, but the Crimson Tide opened strong by scoring the first 14 points in the rematch.
Hendrix hit the first basket, and followed with a steal to set the pace. Riley had three 3-pointers in the first five minutes while Hendrix and Alonzo Gee, who had three first-half dunks, led the inside attack.
Alabama didn't rest on its opening run. After Alex Tyus scored for Florida to make it 19-5, the Tide ripped off 11 straight points to push the lead to 30-5.
Florida managed only two field goals in the first 10:55.
Alabama led 46-23 at halftime and was up 55-30 after a 3-pointer by Riley, but Florida stormed back by scoring 21 of the next 23 points. Chandler Parsons hit two 3s during the run and wound up with 13 pounds.
Riley ended Florida's comeback with two 3-pointers, and the Gators got no closer than eight points the rest of the way.
Gee had 13 points for Alabama, which held a 45-29 advantage on the boards but committed 17 turnovers.