GAINESVILLE, Fla. - Casey Prather had 10 points and nine rebounds, most of them in the second half, and No. 8 Florida rallied from an eight-point deficit to beat Alabama 64-52 Saturday.
The Gators used a 15-0 run late in the second half - fueled by Prather - to pull away from the Crimson Tide and remain unbeaten at home.
Erik Murphy led Florida (23-5, 13-3 Southeastern Conference) with 15 points. Kenny Boynton added 13, and Scottie Wilbekin chipped in 11.
But there's no doubt Prather was the key. He played relentless defense and was equally impressive on the other end. With Prather leading the way, Florida outscored Alabama 23-5 over the final 10 minutes of the game.
Trevor Releford led the Tide (19-10, 11-5) with 12 points. Trevor Lacey and Nick Jacobs added 11 points apiece.
Florida made just 2 of 13 shots from 3-point range, but made up for it by making 22 of 26 from the free-throw line.
Alabama was 4 of 10 from the charity stripe.
The Tide really went cold from the field, making just two baskets after taking a 45-37 lead with 12:23 remaining.
Missed shots, bad passes, charges, Alabama did a little bit of everything to give up the lead on the road.
The Gators gladly took advantage en route to clinching a first-round bye in the SEC tournament. Florida can secure the No. 1 seed by winning one of its remaining two games or having Kentucky lose later Saturday.
Florida used a 12-0 run to open up a double-digit lead early in the game, making this look like it would be another lopsided affair for Florida.
But the Gators stopped making shots and starting giving up baskets at every turn.
All the talk leading into the game was about the return of bench players Will Yeguete and Michael Frazier II. Yeguete missed six games following arthroscopic surgery to remove loose bodies from his right knee, and Frazier sat out Tuesday night's loss at Tennessee because of a concussion.
Neither did much.
Yeguete missed both shots, had one rebound and one turnover in 11 lackluster minutes. Frazier missed his only shot and had a turnover in 6 minutes.
Maybe Prather should have gotten all the pre-game attention.
He certainly would during postgame interviews.
Prather has been banged up all season, missing games because of a concussion and a high-ankle sprain.
He banged his head against the Volunteers, needed stiches above his left eye and created concern about another concussion. He passed all his baseline tests, though, and turned in one of his
best performances in three years at Florida.
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