Florida Gators guard Denzel Aberdeen shoots with Texas A&M Aggies forward Solomon Washington pressuring during their SEC Men's Basketball Tournament semifinal Saturday at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tenn. [Denny Simmons / The Tennessean / USA TODAY NETWORK]

Florida Men’s Basketball Advances To SEC Tournament Final

Before Thursday, not many believed the six-seeded Gators would make it all the way to the SEC Tournament championship game. But one thing is for certain, the Gators believe they can win it all.

The Florida men’s basketball team overcame an 18-point deficit to get revenge against Texas A&M, 95-90, in the semifinals of the conference tournament Saturday at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tenn.

The Gators (24-10) advance to their first SEC Tournament title game since 2014 to face fourth-seeded and 12th-ranked Auburn (26-7) at 1 p.m. (ESPN, 103.7-FM) today.

Unlikely hero Denzel Aberdeen came off the bench to lead the scoring effort for Florida with a career-high 20 points. Will Richard scored 19 with four 3-pointers. Walter Clayton Jr. had 16 and both Zyon Pullin and Tyrese Samuel had 15 each.

For Texas A&M (20-14), which defeated the Gators 67-66 at College Station on Feb. 3, Wade Taylor IV tried to put his team on his back by scoring 30, but it was not enough. UF also snapped a five-game losing streak to the Aggies.

A Diamond In The Rough

After the Gators beat the brakes off of Alabama the night before, that momentum did not translate to start the game.

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The Aggies came out with a pressing 2-3 zone. Florida was not able to find answers to it for the first 12 minutes. The Gators were struggling on the boards as the zone allowed Texas A&M to have at least two people ready for the defensive rebound.

Then a 1-for-8 field-goal stretch allowed the Aggies to pad the lead to as much as 18 points. When everything seemed like the beginning of the end, enter Aberdeen.

The  Orlando Dr. Phillips High School guard was able to find holes in the Aggies’ zone by scoring 12 first-half points to ignite a 6-for-8 field-goal run that helped UF cut the deficit to 50-42 at the half.

Everything Flips For Gators

After barely scoring the basketball in the first, the Gators were almost hitting everything in the second.

Although they lost the rebounding battle in half two, Florida was able to light up from beyond the arc by going 8-for-15 in the half. Also with eight forced turnovers in the second half, the Gators were able to go on a 6-0 run to retake the lead, 59-58.

Seeing that they were not just back in it but leading, the Gators put the pedal to the metal by opening their lead to 11 with with a huge and-1 3 by Clayton Jr. Even though they could not score a bucket in the final three minutes, Florida was able to close out the game at the free-throw line by knocking down 9 of 10 free throws.

Up Next

Florida, playing its fourth game in four days, defeated Auburn, which advanced to the title game by defeating nine seed Mississippi State 73-66 in the first semifinal, 81-65 on Feb. 10 in Gainesville.

 

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