Giving up a lead at the end of regulation only to come from behind to force a second period of extra time, the No. 23/24 Florida Gators (16-4, 5-1 SEC) defeated the Georgia Bulldogs (14-5, 3-3 SEC) 104-91 in a double-overtime thriller to claim sole possession of first place in the Southeastern Conference on Tuesday evening at Stegeman Coliseum in Athens, GA.
Georgia forward Trey Thompkins put-back a missed shot to send the game into overtime, Florida junior point guard Erving Walker hit a dagger three-pointer to force a second overtime, and Gators F Chandler Parsons took over in the final period to complete Florida’s hardest-fought win of the season.
Read the rest of OGGOA’s comprehensive game story…after the break!
UF sophomore guard Kenny Boynton got started early scoring the first seven points of the game for his squad, but runs by both teams left UGA ahead 41-39 at the break. The Bulldogs out-rebounded the Gators 24-14 in the first half and grabbed nine offensive boards that resulted in 17 second-chance points.
A 12-2 run by Florida early in the second half, which included back-to-back treys from Parsons and sophomore F Erik Murphy, put them ahead six. The Gators ended up with an eight-point advantage with less than three minutes left and hoped to keep their opponent in check. That is when things fell apart for Walker.
After turning the ball over at the top of the key up six with 1:32 remaining, Walker missed a poorly shot three on the next possession. He then failed to connect on the front end of a one-and-one with his team up four and 36 seconds left, and missed the back end of another one-and-one with Florida up two and only 21 ticks remaining on the clock.
Thompkins would end up putting back a missed layup by Georgia G Dustin Ware to tie the game at 73 and force overtime.
Walker’s drought continued with back-to-back misses that resulted in a long offensive rebound and fastbreak layup to give the Bulldogs a 79-78 lead with 2:02 left. He then fouled reserve G Sherrard Brantley off the ball and watched as the 56 percent free throw shooter nailed two shots to pull his team ahead with 40 seconds remaining.
After a timeout, Boynton drove the lane only to be stripped without getting a shot up. Walker purposely fouled and sent Bulldogs F Jeremy Price to the line; he swished both shots to give Georgia an 85-82 lead with seven seconds left.
That is when Walker decided it was time to redeem himself. Dashing up the court with the ball, he stopped well behind the three-point line and nailed a dagger triple to tie the game at 85 and force a second overtime.
Florida stepped on the gas from there. The Gators opened up the second overtime with a 9-0 run and connected on 8-of-10 chances from the charity stripe to pull away for the victory. Parsons scored nine of UF’s 17 points in the period, grabbed four rebounds (two offensive) and notched a steal in a clutch performance to wrap-up the game.
Completely overmatched off the glass in the first half, Florida closed the gap throughout the rest of the game and ended up matching Georgia’s stellar rebounding 47-47 (18-17). The Bulldogs turned the ball over seven more times (20-13), but the team’s were equally efficient from the field, downtown and the charity stripe.
Walker and Boynton led the Gators with 24 points apiece. The former also had five assists and four rebounds while hitting 8-of-12 shots from the line with his only misses coming at the start of the game and end of regulation. The latter was a perfect 12-for-12 from the line and is now shooting 77.4 percent from the stripe this season.
Redshirt senior center Vernon Macklin got off to a rough start in the first half but found his stride and scored 17 points throughout the remainder of the game to finish with a career-high 23 to go along with nine rebounds. Macklin was 10-of-15 from the field and hit three big free throws down the stretch.
Parsons finished with 18 points and 12 rebounds for his third double-double of the season, while Murphy added seven points on 3-of-4 shooting with three rebounds in only four minutes of action.
Thompkins stood out for Georgia with a double-double of his own (20 points, 13 rebounds), but G Travis Leslie ended up as his team’s leading scorer with 21 points on 9-of-15 shooting to go along with eight rebounds and three assists.
With the victory, Florida scored more than 100 points for the second time this season, improved to 5-0 in true road contests and took home their second overtime game of the season in three opportunities. Their 104 points scored is the most under head coach Billy Donovan against an SEC opponent and comes just five days after they posted their lowest point total in the Donovan era (45).
The Gators, having won eight of their last nine and 11 of their last 13 games, look to continue their upward trend as they travel to face Mississippi State on Saturday at 1 p.m. The game will air live on CBS and CBSSports.com.
Photo Credit: John Bazemore/Associated Press