The Georgia Bulldogs were hoping to get on a three-game conference win streak for the first time since 2017 as they matched up with the Florida Gators on Saturday afternoon. Following an emotional victory against Kentucky on Wednesday, the Bulldogs fell flat in the second half of this contest, losing to Florida 92-84.
Saturday was the first time this season Georgia’s lack of height and strength were completely exposed. The Gators proved to be the more physical team all day, and that ended up being the biggest difference in the game. Florida out-rebounded Georgia 41-27, including a 16-10 advantage in offensive rebounds.
“That aggressiveness that we had against Ole Miss, and Kentucky and the last couple days wasn’t there at all,” said Georgia head coach Tom Crean. “We did not come with the physicality and fight that you’ve got to have to compete against anybody, let alone a team that’s got the talent upfront that Florida does.”
Florida scored 52 of its 92 points in the paint as well, which crippled the Bulldogs. Georgia had previously been playing stout 3-point defense in its wins against Ole Miss and Kentucky, but that ended on Saturday as well. Florida shot 39% from distance, converting on seven of its 18 3-point attempts. Tre Mann had a game-high 24 points for the Gators.
Florida only led by three points at the halftime buzzer. Georgia was matching Florida’s hot shooting to start the game and also matched a surprisingly fast pace game that the Gators were playing. However, the second half told a different tale, as Georgia never saw the game get that close again.
A 16-3 run to start the second half put the Gators up by 16 points, and from there they slowed the game down and forced Georgia to try and stop them in the paint, which the Bulldogs could not do. In addition to the lopsided rebounding numbers, Florida scored 22 second-chance points, compared to Georgia’s 11. Georgia also missed nine free-throws, which could have changed the game in an eight point loss.
“You don’t miss free-throws on purpose… if it doesn’t fall; it doesn’t fall,” said Georgia sophomore guard Sahvir Wheeler.” “On the rebounding end, everyone can get better. That’s an effort thing, going down there and attacking the ball. That’s something that we didn’t really do today as a team, so I think that would be a little more frustrating.”
Crean said after the game that he will have to evaluate lineups and make changes. After leading the team in scoring for a second straight game, it seems likely that Andrew Garcia might move into the starting lineup for Wednesday’s game against South Carolina. Although Garcia is only 6-foot-6, he plays a physical brand of basketball and has a polished offensive post game, something P.J. Horne lacks.
K.D. Johnson struggled to start today’s game, but the freshman guard picked it up in the second half, finishing with 16 points. Johnson has been a nice spark for the Bulldogs coming off the bench in his four games, but it’s apparent Georgia is a better team with him on the floor. He is a candidate to move into the starting lineup as well.
Georgia 9-5 (2-5) will travel on the road and play the South Carolina Gamecocks on Wednesday night, a game the Bulldogs could be favorites in. Tipoff is at 7 p.m. Florida improves to 8-4 (5-3) and will face Vanderbilt at home next.
“Everybody knows what we have to do, so we just have to stay together and figure it out,” said Garcia.