Florida basketball score, takeaways: Will Richard’s career night leads Gators to sweep of Georgia

By OnlyGators.com Staff
February 28, 2023
Florida basketball score, takeaways: Will Richard’s career night leads Gators to sweep of Georgia

Image Credit: UAA

It was a career night for more than one Florida Gators player and a feather in the cap for head coach Todd Golden as Florida stormed into Athens, Georgia, and left with a thorough 77-67 win over the Georgia Bulldogs. In doing so, the Gators won their eighth straight game against their biggest rival with Golden improving to 2-0 in his career over counterpart Mike White, who led Florida over the prior seven seasons.

On fire from the opening whistle to the final buzzer was sophomore guard Will Richard, who posted a career-high 24 points while draining 5 of 8 attempts from 3-point land. Richard was one of three players who combined to score 74% of the Gators’ points on the evening with Florida holding the lead over Georgia for the final 24:31 of the game.

What went so right for UF on Tuesday night? Let’s take a look with some Fastbreak Takeaways.

It was over when … junior G Trey Bonham hit two free throws to put the Gators ahead 10 points with 24.6 seconds remaining. Florida led by as many as 12 early in the second half but missed 6 of 7 shots as Georgia went on a 10-2 run, cutting its deficit to just three points with 9:17 to play. Seven points from Richard over an extended stretch helped push the Gators back up multiple baskets, and sophomore forward Alex Fudge spun into the lane for a one-handed layup that put Florida ahead 11 with 2 minutes remaining. Multiple turnovers and fouls by UF kept the door open giving UGA extra possessions and free throws, but it ultimately was not enough for the hosts to complete the comeback.

First half focus: Florida started hot, cooled down and ended the opening 20 minutes on a flurry. The Gators used an 11-0 run as part of half-ending 17-5 scoring stretch over 4:31, draining four 3-pointers with Richard accounting for two while scoring 12 of those 17 points to send UF into the locker rooms with a 10-point lead. Florida went 6 of 11 from downtown to start the game with Richard hitting 4 of 6 long-range attempts for a half-high 15 points.

Exceptional efforts: Richard, freshman G Riley Kugel and redshirt senior G Myreon Jones did the heavy lifting for the Gators, combining for 74% of the team’s points (57 of 77). Richard’s career night included a 5 of 8 mark from beyond the arc as he added five rebounds to his 24 points. Kugel finished with 19 points on 7 of 11 shooting with six boards and three assists; it was his seventh straight game as a double-digit scorer. Meanwhile, Jones registered just the second double-double of his career, his first at UF and first overall since Nov. 29, 2019. He posted 14 points on 6 of 9 shooting with a career-high 12 rebounds and four dimes.

Odds & ends: Florida has won eight straight games over Georgia … the Gators improved to 122-103 all-time against the Dawgs … while UF hit 1 of 8 treys in the second half, UGA only connected on 1 of 15 attempts … despite a size disadvantage, Florida held serve in the paint losing the rebounding battle 36-38 but holding a 36-34 scoring edge … the Gators had 15 assists on 29 baskets … senior center jason Jitoboh has four rebounds and eight fouls in his last two games … Florida improved to 12-3 when leading at halftime, 15-1 when leading with 5 minutes to play, 11-3 when shooting 45% or better from the field and 14-2 when outshooting its opponent

What it means: Not much in the grand scheme, though it certainly a feel-good victory for a Gators team that has few opportunities to register meaningful wins with the season winding down. Florida extended its winning streak over Georgia, Golden clearly outcoached White for the second straight game, and two of the Gators’ young playmakers showed out in a key contest.

What’s next? Florida and White will seek a second season sweep when UF hosts LSU on Saturday at 6 p.m. ET to conclude the regular season. The game will air live nationally on SEC Network. The Gators defeated the Tigers and fellow first-year head coach Matt McMahon 67-56 back on Jan. 10.

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