For the Georgia Bulldogs to have a chance of beating the #7 Florida Gators in Gainesville for the first time in 11 years, Coach Mark Fox needed his guys to play a flawless game on Tuesday.
Unfortunately, UGA’s performance was quite flawed.
Florida’s defensive pressure overwhelmed Georgia from the opening tip, forcing the Dawgs into 12 first-half turnovers. In addition to the carelessness, UGA couldn’t buy a basket, making just 31% of their field goals before the intermission.
The Dawgs’ leading scorers heading into this contest – Charles Mann and Kenny Gaines – were each held without a field goal in the game’s first 20 minutes – a recipe for disaster for this team. Mann and Gaines combined for only 1 point and 7 turnovers prior to the break.
Florida, conversely, was red hot, canning 50% of their shots, which allowed them to open up a 36-16 advantage after 20 minutes of play.
The Gators were in cruise control for pretty much the remainder of the game, albeit a mini-run by UGA that cut the Florida lead to 45-31 after a Marcus Thornton layup with 11:38 left in the game. UF answered quickly though, going on a 13-1 run that ran the score up to 58-32 with 5:44 remaining; Florida ended up winning 72-50, remaining unbeaten in conference games.
Georgia actually held a 6-4 lead after a Brandon Morris layup with 15:34 left in the half, but the Gators responded immediately with a 13-0 run over the next five minutes that gave them a 17-6 lead – Florida never really looked back.
The Gators were led offensively by Michael Frazier’s 21 points, which came from primarily beyond the arc, where he knocked down 5 three-pointers.
Georgia got 13 points from Juwan Parker off the bench, and Marcus Thornton chipped in another 11 points. For the most part, UGA’s offense wasn’t much to write home about, with Mann and Gaines scoring a combined 12 points on 4 of 15 shooting from the floor.
After a hot start, Georgia received some grounding on Tuesday from the Gators, who may be the best team in the SEC.
The Dawgs must rebound quickly from this loss and get ready to defend home turf against the Arkansas Razorbacks this coming Saturday.