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No. 17 Florida Gators basketball (19-5, 9-2 SEC) showed that the schedule was getting to it on Tuesday night in Athens, Georgia, but still managed to pull away late for a 72-60 victory over the rival Georgia Bulldogs (13-11, 4-7 SEC). UF has now won five straight games (three on the road) and taken down three teams by double digits in a six-day stretch.
OnlyGators.com breaks down the latest win below.
It was over when … Florida suffered a rough end to the first half (see below) but regained a double-digit lead early in the second half on the back of a 7-0 run with five points by graduate transfer guard Canyon Barry. Still, the Gators were unable to put away the Bulldogs until executing a 13-3 scoring stretch over nearly five minutes with six points coming via free throws. UF took a 15-point lead with 2:40 to play, extended it to a game-high 17 points with 59 seconds left and held strong for the win.
First half focus: It looked like the Gators were primed for another blowout as they used a 21-4 run to take a 21-9 lead on the Bulldogs. Florida eventually went up 30-14, extending its lead to 16 points, but was unable to hold it. Georgia erupted on a 17-1 run to tie the game at 31 as UF went scoreless for five minutes and missed 10 straight field goals. UGA ultimately ended the half on a 19-5 scoring stretch with the visitors leading by just two at the break.
Exceptional effort: Junior point guard Chris Chiozza continued his scorching play, scoring a team-high 15 points on 6-of-10 shooting with four boards and four steals on the evening. He also went 2-of-5 from downtown, including a late three as part of a five-point personal run that iced the contest.
Significant stats: UF did not match its winning formula from the Kentucky game, getting outrebounded (45-39) and only notching two second-chance points. Instead, it did its damage by scoring 18 points off 16 UGA turnovers and once again saw a tremendous effort from its bench, which scored 31 points on the evening.
Odds and ends: Barry finished with 11 points and five rebounds … senior forward Justin Leon impressed early with Florida’s first five points, finishing with 10 as well as a team-high seven boards … sophomore center Kevarrius Hayes continues to show improvement, particularly on defense, and swatted four shots on Tuesday … the Gators led for 34:26 of the 40-minute game, including the entire second half … Florida had 12 steals on the night, forcing most of Georgia’s 16 turnovers
What it means: Florida improved to 4-0 against Georgia under White and defeated an opponent by double digits for the fifth straight game. The Gators also escaped a brutal stretch of three games in six days with a perfect 3-0 record and now actually gets some rest for the weary as they do not play again until the weekend.
Up next: UF will host Texas A&M at noon on Saturday in a game that will air live nationally on ESPN2.