Florida vs. Georgia score, takeaways: Gators collapse in regulation, prevail in overtime

By OnlyGators.com Staff
January 27, 2024
Florida vs. Georgia score, takeaways: Gators collapse in regulation, prevail in overtime

Image Credit: UAA

It was an implosion the Florida Gators saw so many times under Mike White in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center, and given the team’s former head coach was on the opposite side of the sideline Saturday afternoon in Gainesville, Florida, it was almost apropos that it happened again under head coach Todd Golden.

The Gators blew a 21-point lead to the Bulldogs in the second half with the visiting rivals forcing overtime before Florida ultimately prevailed 102-98. A lack of discipline and wasted opportunities on offense led to Georgia storming back from its significant deficit, though UF ultimately prevailed to improve to 14-6 (4-3 SEC) on the season.

Let’s take a look at what happened Saturday in the O’Dome as Golden improved to 3-0 against White.

It was over when … redshirt senior point guard Zyon Pullin drained two free throws to push Florida ahead by four points with 6 seconds left in overtime. The Gators twice led by seven in the period, but the Dawgs scored five points in 6 seconds to put the pressure on in the waining moments of the contest. Florida impressively went 7 of 7 from the charity stripe in overtime and 17 of 20 in the game. It was the second straight contest in which the Gators made 85% of their free throws, tied for the second-best mark this season.

First half focus: Florida led 47-34 at the break thanks to some immense play by junior guards Will Richard (14 points, 6/7 FG) and Will Clayton Jr. (11 points, 3/5 3PT). UF outshot UGA .594-.387 in the period and dominated paint scoring 26-14.

Second half slump: The Gators (four times) led by as many as 21 points, the last such advantage coming with 12:52 in regulation. The Dawgs used an 8-0 run to get back in to the contest and slowly chipped away at their deficit from there. Georgia outscored Florida 18-4 over the final 5:16 and 10-0 over the last 2:44, largely due to a rash of turnovers that negated possessions and gave UGA additional chances. It was a ridiculous collapse at home, one that has unfortunately occurred multiple times under Golden.

Exceptional efforts: Sophomore C Micah Handlogten was a human bucket in the second half, finishing with a career-high 23 points on 10 of 13 shooting with 17 rebounds, the most in a game for any Florida player since 2011. Pullin was patient and efficient throughout the contest, scoring 20 points with eight assists and seven boards. He hit 6 of 9 field goals and 7 of 8 free throws with only a single turnover in the contest. Richard and Clayton each posted 18 points with the former adding seven rebounds along with four turnovers. Those four players combined to score 79 points or 77.5% of the team total.

Odds & ends: Still to come.

What it means: No matter how well the Gators play for any extended stretch, it always feel as if they cannot be trusted to close out games against power-conference opponents. In this case, Florida committed two turnovers in the final 91 seconds while simultaneously struggling to find the bottom of the basket. UF had 10 total turnovers in the second half despite outplaying UGA in mostly every other aspect of the game. Ultimately, a win is a win for the Gators, which went 2-0 during a short homestand and improved to 2-0 in overtime games this season, but collapses like this continue to raise questions about Golden’s ability to manage the team for 40 minutes.

What’s next? Florida’s will alternate consecutive home games with consecutive road contests through the end of February. Coming up Wednesday is a trip to Kentucky for an 8 p.m. tip off. The Gators gave up a second-half lead falling 87-85 to the Wildcats back on Jan. 6. This will be the earliest the teams will complete their two-game season series in decades.

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