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Florida moves one win from undefeated SEC regular season

Tuesday, March 4, 2014 | 9:00 p.m. CST

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Michael Frazier II set a Florida record with 11 3-pointers to finish with a career-high 37 points and help the No. 1 Gators move a game from a perfect Southeastern Conference regular season with a 72-46 victory over South Carolina on Tuesday.

Frazier kept the Gators (28-2, 17-0 SEC), who won their school-record 22nd straight, in the game when his teammates struggled in the opening half. He added some on-target icing to the victory when Florida took control with a 23-5 run midway through the second half.

Frazier broke the 28-year-old Florida mark of Joe Lawrence, who made nine 3s against California on Dec. 27, 1986.

Mindaugas Kacinas had 12 points to lead South Carolina (11-19, 4-13), which was coming off a win over then-No. 17 Kentucky.

The Gators can become the first team besides Kentucky to finish undefeated in SEC play since Alabama went 14-0 in 1956.

Frazier blew past his old career best of 21 points set earlier this season against Texas A&M. He was 11 of 18 from 3-point range while the rest of the Gators were 0 of 13.

No other Florida player reached double digits in points.

The Gators built an 11-point lead early in the second half but Brenton Williams had a four-point play and followed with a 3-pointer to get the Gamecocks within 39-35 with 13:05 left.

But Frazier connected on a three, Patric Young had a three-point play and the rout was on. Frazier added four more 3-pointers over the next 6 minutes to stretch the lead to 62-39 with 4:42 left.

As time wound down, South Carolina students chanted "Georgia Southern," reminding the Gators of their football loss to the FCS school last fall.

Frazier is third all-time in the conference behind Rotnei Clarke's 13 in 2010 and Alex Dillard in 1994. Both Arkansas players accomplished their feats in non-conference games.

Florida came in having clinched the SEC regular-season title last week when second-place Kentucky was beaten twice, including a surprise 72-67 loss here to the Gamecocks last Saturday.

The Gators steadily moved through in pushing to the unbeaten conference season — Florida ran past South Carolina 74-58 to start league play in January — without too many problems against South Carolina.

Florida, though, has not dominated on the road the way it has at home in recent weeks, winning its past four road games by an average of six points. This one proved just as tight for the top-ranked team.

Frazier started off hot with two of his five first-half 3-pointers to give the Gators a 7-0 lead. Florida's defense forced three turnovers in the first 5 minutes.

But the Gamecocks, still fresh from the court-storming celebration three days ago, took Florida's punch and came out swinging themselves with a 12-2 run to move in front and stayed with the nation's top team the rest of the half.

There were four ties and five lead changes over the final 10 minutes and it was Frazier who broke the last tie with his last 3 of the period to send the Gators to the break ahead 28-26.

Frazier had 15 points in the period as the rest of Florida's big guns misfired in the opening half. Leading scorer Casey Prather was held to one free throw while Scottie Wilbekin was just 1-of-5 shooting for two points.


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