The Georgia Bulldogs first conference game of the season did not go well.
Coach Mark Fox’s young team, facing the 11th-ranked squad in the country on the road, got out to what can only be described as the worst start imaginable for an inexperienced team away from home.
Billy Donoans’s Gators came out of the gates applying relentless full court pressure, forcing the Dawgs into 4 turnovers on their first 5 possessions. By the time five minutes had elapsed, Georgia found themselves on the wrong end of an 11-0 run.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope did not even find his way into the scoring column until eight minutes remained before the half. The Bulldogs were frustrated into near meltdown-mode offensively, and their leading scorer refused to assert himself.
Credit Florida senior Kenny Boynton for the defensive performance he put on KCP on Wednesday night. Boynton may have struggled to find offense, scoring just 7 points on 2 of 8 shooting from the floor, but he made up for it on the other end of the court, holding Pope to only 11 points on the night (on 4 of 10 shooting).
The Gators took a 28-15 advantage into the break, which seemed rather shocking considering just how lopsided this half felt as an observer.
Florida proceeded to begin the second half much like it started the first, opening up with an 8-0 run. Following a lay-up by Tim Dixon with 16:45 left in the game, the Gators lead had ballooned to 36-19.
For most of the second half, Florida merely toyed with Georgia, setting themselves up for wide open three after wide open three. With 12:06 remaining, Florida’s lead approached thirty points (53-26) after freshman Michael Frazier hit his second shot from beyond the arc. At the 8:35 mark, the Gators advantage had blossomed to 62-31.
Florida made 12 of their 26 three-point attempts, which really made the score unbalanced considering UGA was only able to hit one shot from the perimeter.
When the final horn sounded, Georgia had committed 19 turnovers which factored greatly into the Gators 77-44 blowout.
Florida was led offensively by guard Mike Rosario, who scored a game-high 19 points.
In the first conference game of their young careers, Charles Mann and Brandon Morris finally looked like freshman – tentative and unsure of what to do with the ball. The two players combined for just two field goals in a total 47 minutes played.
The loss tonight to Florida puts an end to Georgia’s four-game winning streak. The Dawgs had clearly not faced an animal with teeth like the Gators during their recent stretch of games, and tonight’s UGA performance highlighted a plethora of areas in which this team must improve (ball security, press break, etc.).
While the Gators were heavily favored heading into this match-up, the outcome turned out to be even more disproportionate than anticipated.
However, Georgia must find a way to regroup quickly so that they will be prepared to hold serve at home this Saturday against Mississippi State in a game that should serve as a good indicator of just how this SEC season might go for the Dawgs.