Below is the box score from tonight’s game and some quick thoughts on what were the keys to Georgia’s (13-8; 4-5) victory:
Big defensive effort
Georgia’s defense suffocated Florida inside Stegeman this evening, especially down the stretch. After Jalen Hudson hit a three-pointer to put his team up 51-48 with 10:40 left in the game, the Gators went over 9 minutes before converting another field goal. But by the time Keith Stone made said triple, his Gators were down 66-56 with just 1:09 to play. Florida shot 2 for 19 over the final 10 minutes of this contest. Granted, the Gators definitely became a little selfish during this span and didn’t necessarily run much of an offense, but credit the Bulldog defense for making life difficult for Mike White’s team when the game was on the line.
The Dawgs held Florida to just 60 points, which is the Gators’ lowest offensive output of the season. Mike White’s team entered this game scoring 81 points a night and shooting nearly 45% from the floor; tonight Georgia limited Florida to under 37% on its field goal attempts.
Responding at the right time
We all know the old adage that basketball is a game of runs, but this game REALLY was a game of runs. With Georgia trailing 24-18 with 6:47 remaining in the first half, Tyree Crump came off the bench to bury a triple and cut the Gator lead in half. Crump would hit another three-pointer two possessions later, and his hot hand sparked a 15-2 UGA spurt that was capped off by an emphatic dunk from Yante Maten which made it 33-26, Georgia, and enabled the Dawgs to carry a 37-32 lead into the intermission.
Florida started the second half with guns ablazin’ and ran off a 12-2 run in less than 3 minutes that gave them a 44-39 edge. This was the moment when Georgia fans began to wonder if UGA was destined to lose its grip on another big lead a la the Auburn and Arkansas games. Luckily, the players had shorter memories and didn’t seemed fazed by the rejuvenated Florida team that returned for the second half; the Dawgs went on a 14-3 run over a nearly 7-minute span that saw a 48-43 Gator lead evaporate and turn into a 57-51 UGA advantage. And then of course the Georgia defense (highlighted above) kept the clamps on the Gators and enabled Georgia to earn another RPI Top 50 win (with Florida sitting at 38 before the game).
Bench steps up
Mark Fox got 20 points and some overall solid contributions from his bench tonight. In addition to his two three’s, Crump also had a pair of boards and two nice assists. Jordan Harris had 7 points himself to go along with 5 boards, and he probably had his best dribble-drive of the season on a take through the lane late in the second half. But the biggest effort of the night for a UGA player that didn’t start had to be the play of freshman Nicolas Claxton. Claxton continues to be a force on the offensive glass, where he hauled down 4 of his 8 boards. I was surprised to find that he only had 3 blocks because honestly it felt like he had more with the way he’s altering shots in the paint. At this point, it seems that Claxton has wrested Mike Edwards’s spot of “first big off the bench”, and at this rate he may play himself into a starting role as he appears to be gaining ground on Derek Ogbeide.
Georgia hits the road to take on Mississippi State in Starkville this Saturday night. The Maroon Dawgs have been rather stout at home, where they have earned wins over Missouri, Vanderbilt and Arkansas.