Florida overpowers Georgia in Athens

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The Florida Gators exposed Georgia’s (9-5, 2-5) lack of height on Saturday en route to a 92-84 road win. Prior to the start of the season, there was concern regarding the fact that Tom Crean’s roster didn’t contain a player taller than 6’8″, and today in Athens the Gators justified all those concerns. The Dawgs have now given up over 90 points in 4 of their 7 league games, and Georgia has allowed 83+ in all 5 SEC losses. Apparently defense still matters. Who knew?

The real death blow in this game was dealt at the start of the second half. After entering the break down 42-39, Georgia began the final 20 minutes on offense with 2 turnovers and a miss. The Gators countered with a couple buckets and a triple, and before 2 minutes had expired UGA was behind 49-40; Florida never really looked back from this point on.

Interestingly enough, Florida hasn’t been that great of a rebounding team in SEC play. The Gators entered this contest 9th in both total rebounds per game (35.6) and offensive rebounds (11.3). Florida’s frontcourt, which appeared massive next to the UGA players, shattered both of those league averages with 41 total rebounds and 16 offensive boards. Mike White’s team gave UGA the “.38 Special” treatment as the Gators had 22 second-chance points to Georgia’s 11.

Tom Crean had his team in a 2-3 zone for much of the game, which I suppose was an attempt to provide added support on the block. The problem with playing zone, however, is that it makes it much harder to defensive rebound since it’s more difficult for the defenders to make contact with the offensive players to block out. The zone certainly wasn’t helping Georgia slow down the Florida backcourt trio of Tre Mann, Noah Locke and Tyree Appleby, who combined for 54 of the Gators’ points. The Dawgs permitted Florida to hit nearly 57% from the floor, which means that with all the second-chance points, the Gators were getting points on the majority of their possessions.

Georgia’s offense was pretty efficient as well as the Dawgs connected on over 54% from the floor and 5 players finished in double figures. Andrew Garcia led all UGA scorers with 17 points, following up a 16 point effort in the win over Kentucky. Garcia is skilled at making himself available around the rim, and today he finished when he got it at a high clip (8 of 9 on FG). Justin Kier and K.D. Johnson chipped in 14 and 16, respectively, though both of them did their damage at the opposite ends of the game; Kier was most effective at the start, and K.D. finished strong and kept the Dawgs from losing by double-digits.

Sahvir Wheeler’s double-double of 10 points and 10 assists was overshadowed by another abhorrent shooting night as he went 3 of 9 from the floor. The sophomore is now hitting just 40% of his field goals in SEC play, and that’s largely due to his insistence on forcing up contested layups against much taller players. At this point, I don’t think Wheeler is going to get any taller, so he’s going to have to find a way to either pass the ball off or not leave his feet when he drives.