Down 15 at halftime, a win looked nearly impossible for the Florida Gators on the road against the Georgia Bulldogs at Stegeman Coliseum in Athens, GA. After a few major runs, Florida found themselves down only two with the ball in their hands and 13.3 seconds remaining on the clock. A botched final play devastated Gator Nation as the Gators (20-9, 9-5 SEC) fell 78-76 to the hometown Bulldogs (13-14, 5-9 SEC).
Florida started hot from beyond the arc, going 5-for-7 to start the game. However, they were unable to hit anything from inside the three-point line, with the team’s first field goal in nine attempts coming on a layup by junior forward Chandler Parsons at the 12:19 mark in the first half. Georgia exploded on a 14-0 run to go up 29-17 before the Gators responded with an 8-0 run of their own to bring the deficit down to four. It took a half-ending 14-2 run by the Bulldogs to put them up a game-high 45-30 going into the locker rooms.
Read the rest of OGGOA’s Florida at Georgia game story after the break!
In the first half, Florida head coach Billy Donovan received his first technical foul of the season. His team shot only 33 percent from the field compared to Georgia’s 64.3 percent. The Bulldogs outscored the Gators 24-8 in the paint and received 14 bench points compared to none for their opponent.
Both teams fought back-and-forth in the second half after UF began with a 5-0 run to cut UGA’s lead to 10. Midway through the period, Parsons took off on his own 8-0 run to bring Georgia’s lead down to seven (67-60). As the game winded down, Florida powered its way to a 17-4 run, cutting the Bulldogs’ lead to 71-69 with 5:46 to go.
Freshman guard Kenny Boynton was clutch in the final few minutes of the game, scoring the Gators’ final 10 points of the contest and cutting their deficit to two (78-76) with 1:42 left on the clock. Florida would get the ball back with 13.3 seconds remaining, but a botched final play allowed Georgia to hang on for the victory.
Senior forward Dan Werner received the ball on the right side of the basket after a screen and, with about a second left, attempted a pass (that was blocked out of bounds) instead of putting up a shot.
Parsons led the Gators with a career-high 29 points on 10-of-16 shooting; he also had team-highs with six rebounds and six assists. Boynton added 22 points, going 8-for-13 from the floor and 6-for-9 from downtown. Junior F Alex Tyus had one of the worst games of his career; he was dominated in the paint and was held scoreless on four shot attempts. Werner finished 2-of-8 from the field, freshman point guard Erving Walker only shot 2-for-9 for seven points and redshirt junior center Vernon Macklin added 10 points and six rebounds.
Bulldogs’ star F Trey Tompkins led his team with 20 points and seven rebounds. Three other Georgia players finished in double figures. As a team, the Bulldogs dominated the Gators in the paint, out-blocking them 5-0 and out-rebounding them 28-25.
Florida returns home hoping to improve their NCAA Tournament chances by facing the No. 16/20 Vanderbilt Commodores on Tues., March 2 at 7 p.m. The game will air live on ESPN. The Gators finish their regular season on the road against the No. 2 Kentucky Wildcats at 12 p.m. on Sun., March 7.
Photo Credit: David Manning/Associated Press