The Gators led from start to finish and shot 57.8 percent from the field on the way to a school-record tying 24th consecutive home victory. Senior Pat Young hit on 6-of-7 attempts and senior Casey Prather went 5-of-5, with both Florida players finishing with 13 points.
South Carolina, which entered the contest on a season-high 4 game win streak, received 12 points from Tyrone Johnson and 10 apiece from Brenton Williams and Sindarius Thornwell in the loss.
The Gators dominated the game’s early stages, jumping out to a 14-1 lead six minutes in and forcing eight South Carolina turnovers before the Gamecocks made their first field goal.
Florida’s advantage swelled to 28-10 when Prather threw down a dunk and later fed Young for a layup 6:05 prior to the intermission. South Carolina followed with an 11-4 run to grab some momentum, and went into the break down 34-21 after the Gators’ Kasey Hill sank two free throws to close out the period.
The Gamecocks continued to slowly chip away at the deficit following the stoppage, pulling within 43-35 on Desmond Ringer’s three-point play with just under 14 minutes left.
Gators coach Billy Donovan said after the game, “I don’t know what it is, but we have a very, very hard time sustaining intensity….We inevitably let teams get back in games and we’re going to have to do something to get that resolved and corrected. I don’t know what the solution is, but it’s starting to become a theme and I’m starting to get irritated by it.”
Senior PG Scottie Wilbekin began the burst with a 3-pointer and Dorian Finney-Smith capped it with a pair of buckets, the last a dunk off a Prather give that made the score 52-37 with 11:37 to play.
An 11-0 Florida run shortly afterward sealed the outcome, with Michael Frazier’s jumper with seven minutes remaining lengthening the Gators’ lead to 63-42.
Gators PG Scottie Wilbekin left the game with only a few minutes left with what looked like another ankle sprain on the one he previously injured against UConn. His return timeline is unknown and it is doubtful he will play on Saturday when the Gators travel to Fayetteville to play at Arkansas.