Fastbreak: Georgia rocks Florida 73-61 in Athens

By Adam Silverstein
January 17, 2015

By Jordan McPherseon – OnlyGators.com Contributor

Florida Gators basketball dropped its first Southeastern Conference game of the season on Saturday afternoon, falling 73-61 to the Georgia Bulldogs at Stegeman Coliseum in Athens, Georgia. Florida (10-7, 3-1 SEC) struggled out of the gate as Georgia took a lead that it never relinquished over the course of the 40 minutes.

“I think the performance says it all. I don’t want to take anything away from Georgia. … In a lot of ways, I was actually surprised it was as close as it was. It felt like they outplayed us in every facet,” head coach Billy Donovan said after the game. “It was a disappointing response coming off a quick turnaround.”

OnlyGators.com breaks down Saturday’s action with nine quick-hitters:

It was over when: The Bulldogs extended their lead to 15 points (59-44) on a Kenny Gaines three-pointer with 7:56 left to play. That basket helped UGA regain its largest lead of the contest just minutes after UF cut its large deficit to two points.

Significant stretch: The Gators cut their game-long deficit to two early in the second half but suffered from their own miscues, committing four turnovers that allowed an 10-1 Bulldogs run, pushing Georgia ahead of Florida 56-41 with 11 minutes left. UF turned it over seven times during an extended stretch as UGA went 6-for-7 from the field and 5-of-6 from the charity stripe.

“For me, this game is a microcosm of our team. This would be a great example of what I watch in practice. This is what I watch,” Donovan said.

“The hardest thing for young players, in my opinion, is to be consistent day in and day out, day in and day out. A lot of that comes with maturity. We’ve showed moments this year with great, brilliant flashes … we’ve shown great signs. But here’s an example of inconsistency. We’re just very, very inconsistent. It is, for a lot of these guys, very mentally overwhelming and draining to come every day and be able to have the focus and attention to detail and be consistent. I’m concerned every game. There’s not a game I go into and sit there and say, ‘Hey, we’re going to be fine.’”


Prominent players: Gaines and Marcus Thornton lit up the scoreboard, posting a combined 32 points for the Bulldogs. UGA also had two other players — Charles Mann and J.J. Frazier – reach double figures. Gators freshman forward Devin Robinson and redshirt junior F Dorian Finney-Smith each tallied 11 points and combined for nine of UF’s 26 total rebounds.

First half focus: Georgia opened up the game with a 12-0 run and led 19-6 early as it hit seven-straight field goals (four from beyond the arc) and a free throw with Florida starting 0-for-6 from the floor. The Gators kept their heads and competed for the duration of the half, cutting their deficit to five by making 6-of-8 field goals to end the first 20 minutes.

Perfect play: With Florida trailing by five at the break, Robinson hit a quick trey to cut his team’s deficit to two points just 14 seconds into the second half. This marked the closest the Gators came to taking a lead against the Bulldogs; it was also just Florida’s second three-point make of the game.

Standout stat: The Gators turned the ball over a season-high 19 times against the Bulldogs on Saturday, leading to 16 points for Georgia. Those 19 turnovers marked the most in a single game by Florida since it recorded 20 in its 74-56 win against Wisconsin on Nov. 14, 2012. Freshman point guard Kasey Hill, who turned the ball over just once in UF’s last two games, coughed it up three times on Saturday. “It’s hard to overcome 19 turnovers,” Donovan said.

What it means: Georgia exposed a weakness in Florida’s inability to defend the three-point line. UGA converted 53.3-percent of its shots from downtown with Gaines making four of his five attempts. The loss also snaps UF’s 24-game overall win streak in SEC play, which includes 21 consecutive regular-season games and 10 road wins in a row against SEC opponents.

Next up: Florida has another short turnaround as it returns to Gainesville to host LSU on Tuesday at 7 p.m.

Everything else: Redshirt junior G Eli Carter and junior G Michael Frazier II were UF’s first two players off the bench … Florida continued to struggle defensively, accruing 19 fouls on Saturday with Hill and sophomore F Chris Walker each accounting for four … it is the fourth time in five games that the Gators have committed 19 or more fouls in the contest … Walker matched Finney-Smith with a team-high six boards, but Walker struggled once again offensively, hitting 1-of-3 shots for two points in 17 minutes … Frazier and Finney-Smith sat out a large portion of the second half

“I just felt like, you know what, as older guys sometimes when those guys have been in these situations, you expect more from them not in terms of performance but in terms of defense, leadership, those kind of things,” explained Donovan. “I felt like [giving the freshmen] some experience. These older guys aren’t playing at the level we need to play at. To be honest with you, I spent the whole second half just searching for any kind of lineup that would give us a spark, get some stops.”

17 Comments

  1. Dave Massey says:

    NIT here we come, if we can even make that at this point. Chris Walker is looking like he is going to be one of the biggest busts in NCAA history. All the NBA teams must be glad he decided to come back for a second year. Just because you can jump high doesn’t mean you are good at basketball.

  2. Michael Jones says:

    Chris Walker took 3 shots and made 1. He takes and makes another shot and he’s 50% from the floor. We’ll never know much about how good he is or isn’t in Billy D’s system.

    • Marc says:

      One thing we know is that he shouldn’t be firing up baseline jumpers.

    • Dave Massey says:

      If he takes another shot and makes it then he has as many points as fouls. Or if he takes another shot, based on his 33% makes, he more than likely misses it, and he’s 25% from the floor. Billy Donovan has proven himself repeatedly over the last 20 years of coaching and is widely recognized by the best coaches in the business as being a great coach. He has had success at Florida and in the U-19 with all types of players and utilizes the players to the best of their abilities. Maybe the problem is that Walker is too thickheaded to listen and learn and improve. My bet is that Walker is the problem, not Donovan.

      • Ken (CA) says:

        He keeps talking about how coachable Walker is, so I don’t think that’s it. I think he has spent his life dominating due to his freak athleticism and size, and learning how to play organized ball against real competition that is closer to his talent level is still causing him problems.

        • Dave Massey says:

          No doubt the talent level between high school and college is tremendous, probably more so than college to NBA relatively. That is why college coaches are always encouraging guys like Walker to play AAU, etc. to get experience against a higher level of competition. I could buy that if he was a freshman but this is his second year in the program and I don’t see anything close to the level of improvement that should be expected for a second year guy. At this point he isn’t even an above average or possibly average college player, much less a high NBA pick. He misses layups routinely, he can’t put the ball on the floor, and he regularly gets blocked under the basket trying to shoot. No way is the problem Billy D as Mr. Jones insinuates. That is just ridiculous, the problem is Walker’s inability to adjust to the college game.

      • Michael Jones says:

        I understand that everybody likes Billy D. and that nothing that goes wrong is ever his fault. I like Donovan too, but his ability to recruit and develop big men is not good (see recently Joel Embiid and Schuyler Rimmer, for examples). This is not a favored destination for quality big men. There’s a reason for that.

        The absence of a strong and tough inside presence usually hurts us come tournament time.

        • Thatguy15 says:

          Billy D can’t develop big men? Did you forget about Patric Young, Al Horford, and Joakim Noah? Marreese Speights? David Lee?Udonis Haslem? Come on dude

          • Dave Massey says:

            Stole the words right out of my mouth. Not to mention Adrian Moss and Chris Richard, among others. He also recruited and signed Kwame Brown who was the top recruit that year, but he ended up going pro right out of high school.

  3. scroud says:

    What a disaster. I think Walker needs at least another year on the team. My fear is he is so determined to go pro that he won’t focus on the team and will just try to make his stat line look better. Today was a big step back.

  4. dj says:

    Walker’s 1st season shouldnt really count due to him missing the 1st part of the season that set him back quite a bit
    The issue is this team just isn’t that talented as a whole everyone on the team as major flaws in their game Walker needs a big on the team like Young to help him make adjustments in the game and another duel post player.

    • Dave Massey says:

      You’ve got to be kidding me. Don’t count the first season because he got caught breaking the rules! He was with the team the whole time and didn’t take advantage of it because he was too busy combing his hair for the NBA commercials he dreamed he was going to be in. If it set him back it was his own fault. He made it clear that he only expected to stay for this year. Let him go and play in Europe and fade into obscurity, which is what he is destined to do.

      Walker had Young on the team to help him develop and now he is supposed to be the one taking his place. Too bad he didn’t take advantage of it. They play the same position. Walker will never have half the heart Young had. Florida should hire a mentor for Walker to develop his game or recruit someone to help him make adjustments, seriously?

      This team is plenty talented, every player including Jordan and James have flaws, what they lack is leadership.

  5. Wingtee says:

    So it’s all Walkers fault. gator fans at its best.

  6. Mike The Red says:

    “I felt like [giving the freshmen] some experience. These older guys aren’t playing at the level we need to play at.”

    Did he just say that he has written off this season, and is building next year’s team?

    • Thatguy15 says:

      Might as well. This team won’t accomplish much anyways. But I’m sure that’s not what Donovan meant. If the younger guys are doing more than the veterans then why put them on the bench? Although, Frazier should’ve definitely been playing more in the second half.

  7. joey says:

    I HATE UGA!!!!

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