Behind a career-high 25 points by sophomore Nicolas Claxton, the Georgia men’s basketball team defeated Florida, 61-55, Saturday night at the Exactech Arena.
In the first half alone, Claxton totaled 12 of his career-high 25 points. The sophomore forward finished 9-of-12 from the field, 2-of-2 behind the arc and a perfect 5-of-5 from the free-throw line. He also had three blocks.
Junior Jordan Harris added nine points and played a career-high 38 minutes.
“These guys have not given up,” Georgia head coach Tom Crean said. “They have continued to battle. They have continued to learn. They have certainly continued to improve, and we have just not had the result recently. We’ve had nine-point differentials in the last four games that have kept us from winning… Nobody gave up. [There was
Georgia led the Gators for all but the last minute of the first half. The Bulldogs notched six-of-eight shots to start the first seven minutes of the game, with baskets by six Bulldogs. A 3-pointer by Crump grabbed Georgia its first double-digit lead of the night and capped an 11-2 run. While Claxton extended Georgia’s lead to 10 with a three-point shot at the shot clock buzzer, Florida began to make its comeback on the next possession. The Gators then grabbed eight points off of Bulldog turnovers to narrow the score to 18-14.
Florida’s scoring momentum continued, allowing them to tie the game, 24-all, before taking the 28-27 lead into halftime. Claxton headed to the locker room with 12 of Georgia’s 27 points.
Coming out after the half, the Gators built their lead to 34-27, but baskets by Claxton and Ogbeide put the Bulldogs within two points. Georgia then went on an eight-point run, topped off by a three-pointer by Fagan, to snag its first lead of the second half, 41-39.
The Gators’ 61-55 loss — on coach Mike White’s 42nd birthday, no less — snapped the Bulldogs’ nine-game skid and delivered a gut punch for a UF squad riding a five-game winning streak and a wave of momentum into a game.Orlando Sentinel
“It’s a great birthday,” a stoic White said, his voice trailing.
He was not the only Gator with a long face.
“It was disappointing,” senior guard Jalen Hudson said. “We didn’t come ready to play. I don’t think we deserved to win tonight.”
Florida managed to tie it once more at 41-all with 11 minutes to go. While the Bulldogs maintained the lead, the Gators fought back, making it a one-point game with nearly four minutes to play. A layup by Harris extended Georgia’s lead to three, and a Claxton jumper secured the Bulldogs’ biggest lead of the second half [55-0]. With this basket, Claxton also notched a new career-high with 23 points which he later pushed to 25.
The remaining minutes of the game featured back-and-forth baskets by both teams, but the Bulldogs eventually pulled away with the 61-55 victory.
The Bulldogs improve to 11-18 overall and 2-14 in the SEC.