- Associated Press - Thursday, January 23, 2014

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) - Anthony Grant and Alabama still can’t beat Florida. Of course, nobody else has lately, either.

Trevor Releford scored 14 points but the short-handed Crimson Tide lost 68-62 to the sixth-ranked Gators on Thursday night. Alabama (8-10, 2-3 Southeastern Conference), playing without injured No. 2 scorer Retin Obasohan, fell to Florida (16-2, 5-0) for the eighth straight time.

“They are a great basketball team,” said Grant, who is 0-7 against the Gators. “They are the sixth-ranked team in the country for a reason.”

Grant is a former assistant under Florida coach Billy Donovan, whose team won its 10th straight game to match last season’s longest streak.

Michael Frazier II led the Gators with 18 points and five 3-pointers, including some timely long-range shots.

The Tide had its league-best 14-game SEC home winning streak snapped.

Florida went 8 of 10 from the free throw line over the final 47 seconds to halt any Alabama threat.

Frazier shot 5 of 13, all from 3-point range. Casey Prather scored 14 points despite just 6-of-16 shooting for the Gators. Scottie Wilbekin had 10 points and four assists.

Frazier’s four-point play with 5 seconds left in the opening half gave the Gators a 33-26 lead. He hit a 3 from the right corner, his third of the half, and was fouled by Shannon Hale. Frazier made the free throw.

Florida struggled shooting at times but did make 10 3-pointers to take advantage of what Alabama’s zone defense left available.

“We got the ball several times into the middle of the floor and we got the ball around the basket and they did a really good job collapsing on (Patric) Young and our guys in the front court,” Donovan said. “What was open was from the perimeter, and we made some shots and moved the ball pretty well.”

Nick Jacobs scored 12 for Alabama, Levi Randolph 11 and Hale 10.

Alabama struggled to get into an offensive rhythm in Obasohan’s absence, allowing the Gators to focus more on Releford defensively. Obasohan strained his left hip flexor in Tuesday’s practice.

“If he was out there, he could have definitely helped,” said Releford, who shot 5 of 12 from the floor. “We missed him tonight.”

The Gators have won 10 of the last 11 meetings with the Tide. Florida also had handed Alabama its last SEC home loss on Feb. 14, 2012.

Alabama has lost three of four games, despite holding six straight opponents below 70 points.

Randolph hit a pair of free throws on back-to-back possessions to cut Florida’s lead to 62-57 with 1:07 left.

Florida ran 20 seconds off the clock before forcing the Tide to foul, and then the free throw parade began. The Gators didn’t make a field goal over the last 4 minutes.

Frazier hit consecutive 3-pointers to give Florida its first double-digit lead, 53-43, with 9:28 left.

Young then made a steal and lofted a long pass to Kasey Hill for a layup. Alabama cut the 12-point deficit in half with a 6-0 spurt but couldn’t get any closer until Randolph’s free throws.

The Gators fired up 28 3-pointers. The 10 makes helped overcome 23-of-61 shooting (37.7 percent).

“Those 3s hurt,” Releford said. “They were momentum plays for Florida and gave Frazier his confidence. When you give a shooter like him confidence, he’s just letting it go.”

Alabama didn’t shoot much better at 38.6 percent (22 of 57) and made 2 of 12 from 3-point range.

Will Yeguete and Dorian Finney-Smith each had 11 rebounds for Florida, with Finney-Smith racking up seven offensive boards.

“Probably the story of the game was their ability to get second shots and offensive rebounds,” Grant said. “Eighteen offensive rebounds, that at the end of the day was probably the difference in the game.”

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