80 -
Team 1 2
FLA 38 42
ALA 31 36
67
9-6

No. 23 Florida confronts defensive-minded Alabama in SEC duel

The Associated Press

Florida scored more than 80 points on four occasions during a five-game winning streak, but the No. 23 Gators might need to play a different style to keep that streak intact.

That's because Florida visits Alabama on Tuesday and the Crimson Tide are finding success in a different manner. Alabama is allowing an average of 56.5 points during its four-game winning streak.

So it definitely makes for a clash of philosophies when two of the SEC's four remaining unbeaten teams in conference play square off in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

The Gators (12-3, 3-0) feature three players averaging more than 11 points per game, including red-hot sophomore guard KeVaughn Allen (14.7 per game). The Crimson Tide (9-5, 2-0) don't have any players scoring in double digits while limiting opponents to an average of 61.1, which ranks second in the SEC.

"We're an emerging offensive team, but we hang our hats on defense," Alabama coach Avery Johnson said Monday. "We think if we can continue to rebound with our opponents or try to outrebound them, that will have a direct correlation on success for us.

"But we have to get back on defense. We can't give Florida any easy baskets. They are outstanding in the open floor."

Allen has been outstanding from all areas of the floor during the past four games. He has made at least four 3-pointers in each and is 18 of 29 from long range during the span.

Allen is averaging 19.3 points during the stretch and was named SEC Player of the Week on Monday after averaging 18.5 points in last week's victories over Mississippi and Tennessee.

"It's nice to see him really aggressive because he's a really talented scorer," Florida coach Mike White said, "and his teammates rally around that, too."

Allen likes being a difference-maker, but he is more smitten over his team's results.

"It's a big accomplishment to be 3-0," Allen said. "But we have to continue to work hard, go to practice, learn from our mistakes and perform better."

Junior forward Devin Robinson (12.1) and reserve senior guard Canyon Barry (11.8) also are scoring in double digits for the Gators, who average 78.9 points per game. Senior forward Justin Leon averages just 7.2 points but delivered a career-best 19 points in Saturday's 83-70 victory over Tennessee.

Alabama is coming off a 59-56 victory over Vanderbilt to improve to 9-0 when holding teams to 61 or fewer points.

Freshman guard Dazon Ingram leads the Crimson Tide in scoring (9.9), assists (3.9) and steals (16). Freshman forward Braxton Key (9.4 points, 5.5 rebounds) is the only other player averaging more than eight points per game.

The relative lack of firepower leaves Johnson well aware that his team has little margin for error against the Gators.

"Florida is a really good team. They are experienced and they do a great job," Johnson said. "Allen makes 3s from all over the floor. This is a well-coached, experienced basketball team so we're going to have to play our best basketball."

Alabama outplayed Florida in last season's lone meeting as it halted an 11-game losing streak against the Gators by posting a 61-55 road victory. It was only the fourth time the Crimson Tide defeated Florida in the past 26 meetings.

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