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
Basketball

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.

One Comment

  1. 1974Gator says:

    Nice to see some positive comments on the site. I agree with your season long analysis of their offensive play. I’ve noticed that their energy level drops and ball movement becomes tentative while they suffer through their scoring slumps. All the air goes out of the gym and their play. It’s palpable, maddening and has happened far to many times this season. I can’t tell whether it’s the PGs or lack of respect for out front court play.

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