Florida at Georgia basketball score, takeaways: Gators, Phlandrous Fleming Jr. take care of business

By Adam Silverstein
February 26, 2022
Florida at Georgia basketball score, takeaways: Gators, Phlandrous Fleming Jr. take care of business
Basketball

Image Credit: GatorsMBK / Twitter

Entering the closing stretch of the 2021-22 college basketball season, the Florida Gators have run out of mulligans. As such, Florida’s thorough 84-72 road win over a Georgia Bulldogs team that has now lost nine straight games was simply the program taking care of necessary business as a far tougher test awaits.

The Gators (18-11, 8-8 SEC) did nothing to improve their resume by trouncing the Bulldogs (6-23, 1-15 SEC), which have been one of the league’s punching bags this season. However, perhaps Florida learned some lessons about playing more consistently as a make-or-break stretch of games approaches if the team wants to earn a berth into the 2022 NCAA Tournament.

Returning to his native Athens, Georgia, and playing in front of more than 50 family members and friends, it was Gators senior guard Phlandrous Fleming Jr. who had the most notable performance as he was all over the court scoring a season-high 27 points on 11 of 18 shooting with five rebounds and four assists. Not to be outdone, senior point guard Tyree Appleby continued his hot play for the third straight game.

Saturday was a nice moment for a Florida team that entered having lost three of its prior four games, knocking itself to the outskirts of the NCAA Tournament bubble. Whether the Gators will use it to propel themselves forward remains to be seen. Let’s take a look at what went down with some Fastbreak Takeaways.

It was over when … Appleby (eight points) and Fleming (four) combined for a 12-2 run that pushed Florida ahead 17 on Georgia with less than 9 minutes remaining. The Gators and Dawgs jockeyed for position to open the half with Florida starting the period with a 10-0 run to go up 17 before Georgia answered with a 13-3 stretch to find itself down seven. However, UGA never got closer than that over the remainder of the game in one of UF’s easiest wins of the season.

First half focus: Florida played consistently from the jump, using a 9-0 run with seven straight points from Fleming to lead Georgia by nine with 7:14 remaining in the opening period. The Dawgs answered with seven straight points of their own, but the Gators uncharacteristically outscored the hosts 12-7 entering the locker rooms to hold a seven-point lead at the break. UF hit 8 of 15 triples in the first half while combining for 12 assists and just three turnovers without committing a shooting foul, limiting UGA’s scoring opportunities while taking care of the ball.

Exceptional efforts: Home cooking clearly hit Fleming right as he scored a Florida career-high 27 points with a trey in the final seconds to punctuate his special homecoming performance. Appleby hit his first three 3-pointers and 5 of 9 overall to score 21 points with seven dimes. It marked Appleby’s third straight game with 19+ points (a first for his college career), a stretch over which he’s 13 of 28 from downtown and 13 of 15 from the free throw line. Senior forward Colin Castleton took a step back from a scoring perspective but was still a force with a double-double (10 points, 12 rebounds), five assists and three blocks.

Odds and ends: Florida won its sixth straight game against Georgia, improving to 120-103 all-time against its rival with a 43-52 mark in Athens … the Gators are now 11-3 against the Dawgs overall, 6-1 on the road under White … UF improved to 8-0 this season and 62-3 all-time under White when scoring 80+ points … Florida led for the final 30:06 of the game … the Gators’ 20 assists tied their second-most of the season, and they are now 5-0 when dishing 16+ dimes … UF shot a season-best 45.2% from beyond the arc (14 of 31)

What it means: Not much. Georgia has been so poor this season that Florida’s win did not adjust its position on the bubble. With losses in three of its last four games, UF would need a monster finish to get into the NCAA Tournament. That includes winning out next week (see below) at a minimum. Should the Gators go 1-1 next week, a significant run in the SEC Tournament would be required, but even in that scenario, it’s possible that nothing short of advancing to the finals would make a difference.

Entering the season’s final week, it’s more likely than not that Florida fails to qualify for March Madness. The mind-numbing loss to a poor Texas A&M team on Feb. 15 doomed UF, and the 82-74 defeat against then-No. 18 Arkansas last week certainly did not help. The Gators are 2-8 against Quadrant 1 opponents and 5-10 against Quadrants 1-2 with one of the worst nonconference losses of the season to Texas Southern on their resume.

What’s next? Florida concludes the regular season next week first by visiting Vanderbilt, which it beat by 19 points back on Jan. 22, on Tuesday at 8:30 p.m. ET in a game that will air live nationally on SEC Network. UF then hosts Kentucky on Saturday at 2 p.m. in its lone CBS game of the season. The Gators battled the then-No. 5 Wildcats back on Feb. 12 before falling apart in the second half to lose by 21.

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