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      Alabama set for SEC showdown at No. 8 Florida

      Anthony Grant's Alabama basketball team will have their hands full against Billy Donovan's 8th-ranked Florida Gators Saturday. (abc3340.com)

      TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- The Alabama men's basketball team will travel to Gainesville, Fla., where it will take on the No. 8/6 Florida Gators on Saturday afternoon. The contest is set to tip off at 11 a.m. CT and will be televised on ESPN.

      "We are looking forward to the challenge of going on the road and playing a team the caliber of Florida," UA head coach Anthony Grant said. "I'm really impressed watching them on film and what they've been able to accomplish over the course of the season. Obviously, they are coming off a tough loss at Tennessee and they were not 100-percent healthy at the time. We understand they will have a full complement of players for our game. We're 15 games into the conference schedule and we find ourselves tied for second place. The things we've talked about, having the opportunity to control our destiny. It's in our hands and I think the guys are excited about it. We're looking forward to the challenge."

      The match-up will pit the top two teams in the Southeastern Conference heading into the final three regular season games. The Tide (19-9, 11-4 SEC) comes into the contest trailing the Gators (22-5, 12-3) by one game in the league standings.

      The game will have a little extra drama as Alabama head coach Anthony Grant will face off against his mentor Billy Donovan, but it will mark just the second time he has faced Florida in Gainesville. Grant served as Donovan's assistant coach at UF from 1996-2006.

      The Crimson Tide comes into the contest having won five of its last six games and 10 of its last 13 following a 61-43 victory over Auburn on Tuesday night. Junior guard Trevor Releford finished the contest with a game-high 21 points, marking his team-leading fifth 20-point contest of the season. Sophomore guard Trevor Lacey added 12 points, while sophomore forward Nick Jacobs recorded his second double-double of the season with 10 points and 10 rebounds.

      Releford comes into the game as the team's top scorer. An SEC Player of the Year candidate, Releford ranks fourth in the league in scoring at 15.6 ppg. He also tops the squad in three-point field goal percentage (.425), steals per game (2.2) and free throw shooting (.815), and ranks second on the team in assists (2.7 apg).

      Sophomore guard Trevor Lacey is second on the team in scoring with 11.9 points per game. Coming into Saturday's contest, Lacey leads the team in threes made (47) and attempted (129) and assists (3.1 apg).

      Combined, the duo of Releford and Lacey contribute 27.5 points per game, or approximately 43 percent of the team's 63.5 points per game.

      Meanwhile, Cooper also averages double figures with 11.0 ppg and has reached double-digits in seven of his last eight contests coming into Saturday's game. He leads the team in rebounding (4.8 rpg), offensive rebounding (2.0 orpg) and total field goals attempted (277).

      Florida comes into Saturday's showdown sporting a 22-5 overall mark and is on top of the conference standings with a 12-3 record in SEC play. The Gators have lost two if their previous three contests, both of them coming on the road. Most recently, Florida dropped a 64-58 decision at Tennessee last Tuesday night.

      UF owns a perfect 13-0 record at home this season, including a 7-0 mark against league competition.

      The Gators boast four players who are averaging double-figure scoring, led by senior guard Mike Rosario's 13.1 points per game. Senior guard Kenny Boynton is second on the team with 12.5 points per contest, followed by senior forward Erik Murphy (12.3 ppg) and junior center Patric Young (10.4 ppg).

      Young also tops the team in rebounding (6.5 rpg) and field goal percentage (.609), while Murphy is the Gators' top three-point shooter, knocking down 46.7 percent of his shots from beyond the arc (57-of-122). Additionally, junior guard Scottie Wilbekin leads UF in assists (5.4 apg) and steals (1.6 spg), while also contributing 9.0 ppg.

      As a team, Florida ranks at the top in the SEC in numerous categories, including scoring defense (1st-53.5), scoring margin (1st-plus 19.6), field goal percentage (1st-.489), field goal percentage defense (1st-.375), three-point field goal percentage (1st-.384) and three-point field goal percentage defense (1st-.300).

      Alabama and Florida will square off for the 134th time in series history when they meet on the hardwood on Saturday afternoon. It marks the eighth-most games UA has played against any one opponent. The Crimson Tide owns a 73-60 edge in the series. However, the Gators have won five straight games over the Crimson Tide and 16 of the last 19 contests played between the two schools.

      {}The contest can also be heard on the Crimson Tide Sports Network, with Chris Stewart and Bryan Passink on the call. Fans can follow the in-game action with live tweets on the team's official Twitter page @AlabamaMBB.

      Source:{} www.rolltide.com

      Gameday Matchup {}ALAFLA W-L19-922-5Avg Points63.573.1Avg Points Allowed58.253.5Home Record13-314-0Road Record4-67-4Current StreakW1L1Team Stat Leaders {}ALAFLA PointsT. Releford 15.6M. Rosario 13.1ReboundsR. Cooper 4.8P. Young 6.5AssistsT. Lacey 3.1S. Wilbekin 5.4StealsT. Releford 2.2S. Wilbekin 1.6BlocksM. Gueye 1.6P. Young 1.72012-13 SEC STANDINGS TEAMCONFGBOVR #8 Florida12-3--22-5Kentucky11-4120-8Alabama11-4119-9Ole Miss10-5221-7Missouri9-6320-8Tennessee9-6317-10LSU8-7417-9Arkansas8-7417-11Georgia7-8513-15Texas A&M6-9616-12Vanderbilt6-9612-15South Carolina3-12913-15Auburn3-1299-19Mississippi State2-13107-20
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