Florida basketball score, takeaways: Gators overcome slow start to beat Georgia

By Adam Silverstein
March 4, 2020
Florida basketball score, takeaways: Gators overcome slow start to beat Georgia

Image Credit: GatorsMBK / Twitter

Another slow start on Wednesday night looked set to doom Florida Gators basketball, but it was able to break out of some defensive lulls and a massive shooting slump to pull off a 68-54 win on the road against the Georgia Bulldogs. Despite missing its first 12 three-pointers, Florida (19-11, 11-6 SEC) picked up a big victory in the penultimate game of its regular season, turning a 13-point deficit against Georgia (15-15, 5-12 SEC) into a 14-point victory.

What went down Wednesday night in Athens, Georgia? Let’s have a closer look with some fastbreak takeaways as the Gators took down the Dawgs to sweep the regular-season series.

It was over when … Florida responded to an atrocious flagrant 1 call with a 6-0 run started by a three-pointer by sophomore forward Keyontae Johnson that put the Gators up 11 with 1:57 to play. After trailing by as many as 13 in the first half, UF used an 8-0 run to take its first lead of the game at 45-40 midway through the second half. UGA answered, but the Gators put together a 10-0 stretch including a pair of triples from sophomore guard Noah Locke to go up 55-46 with 5:08 to play. The visitors were able to hold onto that advantage for the duration of the contest.

First half focus: Florida opened in a tremendous deficit, trailing by 13 as Georgia opened by making all seven of its shots, including four straight three-pointers against an extremely porous defense. The Gators went 0-for-10 from downtown in the opening period and looked to be dead in the water until a 16-4 stretch that cut their deficit to a single point with 4 minutes left in the half. UF eventually tied the game late, but UGA took a two-point lead into halftime.

Exceptional efforts: Johnson registered his fifth double-double in eight games with team-highs of 18 points (on 8 of 14 shooting) and 11 rebounds. Locke drained three big shots from long range for 17 points on 7 of 12 shooting, and sophomore point guard Andrew Nembhard was efficient with seven points and six assists. UF’s starters scored 62 of the team’s 68 points over the game.

Odds and ends: Florida trailed Georgia by 22 and 13 in the teams’ meetings but won both games … the Gators improved to 116-103 all-time against the Dawgs, including 7-4 under head coach Mike White and 4-1 in road games under White … UF is now 18-3 this season when scoring 66+ points in a game … Florida scored a staggering 26 points off 16 Georgia turnovers and only turned the ball over eight times itself … UF only led for 11:21 compared to 24:03 for UGA … freshman G Scottie Lewis scored 11 key points, many in the second half … redshirt senior F Kerry Blackshear Jr. did not put up big numbers but posted eight points and six boards while only committing a single foul

What it means: The Gators are fighting for NCAA Tournament and SEC Tournament seeing down the stretch of the 2019-20 regular season. Florida had an SEC Tournament seed range of 2-7 entering the game, but locked up a top-four seed and double bye with the victory. It is looking like UF will be a 8-9 seed in the NCAA Tournament no matter how it finishes the season unless it goes on a run in league tournament play.

What’s next? Florida will conclude its regular season on Saturday when it hosts No. 6 Kentucky at 1 p.m. ET in a game that will air live on CBS. The Gators have lost three straight to the Wildcats, falling 65-59 at UK back on Feb. 20. However, UF has won two of the last three meetings in Gainesville, Florida.

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