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The Dagger

Another SEC blowout for Florida, but this time the Gators are on the wrong end

Scottie Wilbekin and Florida had their 10-game win streak snapped (USA Today Sports Images)

One team led from start to finish in Tuesday night's SEC matchup between first-place Florida and middling Arkansas.

It just wasn't the one most expected.

Second-ranked Florida, which had defeated its first eight SEC opponents by an average of 27.8 points, trailed by 23 less than 11 minutes into the first half in Fayetteville. Arkansas rode the momentum from that early surge to an 80-69 victory, expanding the lead to as many as 27 points and never letting the previously torrid Gators trim the deficit to single digits the rest of the game.

Even in a season with nightly upsets, no dominant teams and weekly turnover at the No. 1 spot in the polls, the first 10 minutes of the Arkansas-Florida game felt like they took place in the twilight zone.

[Related: Thrilling stretch ahead as teams vie for tournament seeding]

Entering Tuesday's game, the Gators (18-3, 8-1) had beaten every SEC opponent by 17 or more and ranked in the top five nationally in both points per possession scored and surrendered. Nonetheless, an Arkansas team 10 days removed from a 21-point loss to South Carolina dominated in every aspect.

Florida surrendered 36 points in 11 minutes, the same number of points South Carolina scored against the Gators in all 40 minutes last Wednesday. The Gators were beaten to loose balls, turned the ball over against Arkansas' pressure and took quick contested jump shots that fueled runouts, contributing to the Razorbacks sinking 14 of their first 18 shots from the field.

Eight Arkansas players scored at least seven points but none had more than 13, a classic Mike Anderson box score if ever there were one. The typically cold-shooting Razorbacks sank seven first-half threes and also attacked Florida off the dribble and in the paint, taking advantage of foul trouble that hampered Patric Young and a knee injury that limited Will Yeguete to only two first-half minutes.

The poor performance from Florida will embolden skeptics who note the Gators have fattened up on a cupcake-heavy SEC slate. They do have solid non-league victories over Wisconsin, Marquette and Florida State, but they've yet to defeat any of their top SEC foes away from Gainesville.

[Video: Is Michigan State a title contender?]

If there's one consolation for Florida, it's that plenty of other quality teams haven't fared well when visiting Arkansas.

The Razorbacks are 14-1 at home this season, their only loss by nine to Big East-leading Syracuse in November. That's an impressive stat but also a maddening one for Arkansas, which wouldn't make the NCAA tournament if the season ended today as a result of an 0-7 record away from home.

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