Florida basketball score: Gators overcome 22-point deficit vs. Georgia in record comeback

By Adam Silverstein
February 5, 2020
Florida basketball score: Gators overcome 22-point deficit vs. Georgia in record comeback
Basketball

Image Credit: GatorsMBK / Twitter

Tell me if you have heard this before: The Florida Gators overcame a massive deficit to beat an SEC team in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center. If that sounds familiar, it is because Florida — for the second time this season — set a record for largest comeback in program history on Wednesday night, fighting back from 22 points down to defeat the Georgia Bulldogs, 81-75.

The Gators (14-8, 6-3 SEC) trailed by 22 with 16:43 to play after being behind 15 points at halftime. The win also marks the largest halftime deficit overcome in the O’Dome with the Bulldogs (12-10, 2-7 SEC) being outscored 55-34 in the second half.

So what exactly went down on Wednesday night? We’re still trying to figure that out. But let’s have a closer look at some fastbreak takeaways from the Florida-Georgia game.

It was over when … Sophomore point guard Andrew Nembhard, moments after missing a key free throw, stole the ball in transition and made a driving fastbreak layup with 19 seconds remaining to put Florida up six. There was some fouling back and forth from there, but Georgia’s comeback bid was basically squashed on Nembhard’s heads-up play.

Second-half shocker: Down 15 at the half and suddenly finding itself trailing by 22 after an 18-1 run for UGA spanning halftime, it looked like UF was poised for a massive embarrassment on its home court. And then, truly like a flip of the switch, the Gators decided to actually play defense and start making baskets. Florida absolutely stunned the crowd by outscoring Georgia 39-7 over a span of 10:47. Sophomore forward Keyontae Johnson and freshman guard Tre Mann each made a pair of three-pointers and combined to score 19 points during the scoring stretch with Nembhard and redshirt senior forward Kerry Blackshear Jr. also starring during the extended run. UF went from down 22 to up 10 with 5:56 to play.

Exceptional efforts: Johnson remains the best and most consistent player on the roster, and while nearly his entire scoring effort came in the aforementioned stretch, his 15-point, seven-rebound line was efficient despite three turnovers. Nembhard — as he did in the 21-point comeback vs. Alabama earlier this season — scored a career-high with 25 points, hitting 10-of-16 shots despite only making 1-of-5 threes. Mann was exceptionally clutch with 11 points on 3-of-7 shooting from beyond the arc, while freshman G Scottie Lewis starred defensively and added nine boards with a huge block late in the game.

Odds and ends: Florida was a complete different team in the second half, going 7-for-11 from downtown (vs. 2-for-12) and 18-for-30 from the field (vs. 11-for-31) … Georgia was exceptional on the fastbreak (22-5), but after being beaten on the boards all game, the hosts won the rebounding battle (36-30) and paint scoring (34-32) … there were only two lead changes the entire game — the Dawgs 13-0 run to take an early lead on the Gators, and the aforementioned 38-7 streak for UF in the second half … Blackshear had 12 points and hit 5-of-8 free throws but fouled out in the game … Florida improved to 115-103 all-time against Georgia, including 66-38 at home and 6-3 under head coach Mike White

What it means: Who knows anymore?! Florida beat then-No. 4 Auburn by 22 back on Jan. 18, lost three straight games (two at home, including by seven to Mississippi State), survived at Vanderbilt on the road and just came back from a 22-point home deficit to beat a Georgia team that only has two wins in SEC play despite having one of the best players in the nation in Anthony Edwards. You try to make sense of that. The Gators played one of their worst defensive halves under White to open the game, then one of their best out of halftime. They were unable to find the bottom of the basket and then hit 7-of-11 triples in the latter period. In other words, Florida looked like an NIT team for 24 minutes and then a Final Four team for 16.

The one thing that can be said for sure about the Gators is that they are not necessarily improving. They can play great or poorly at any given time, and there does not appear to be much rhyme or reason as to why. An uneven team early in the season should gel together and become more consistent as the year goes on. That’s not exactly happening here.

What’s next? Florida hits the road to face Ole Miss on Saturday at 2 p.m. in a game that will air live on ESPN2. How will the Gators play? You’ll have to tune in to find out.

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