Despite a late second-half rally, the Georgia men’s basketball team fell to the Florida Gators, 57-53, Tuesday night at Stegemen Coliseum.
With the loss, Florida (17-9, 8-5) now holds a 111-100 record against Georgia (14-10, 7-6). The Bulldogs are 62-38 in games played in Athens against the Gators.
UGA was led by Kenny Gaines, with 12 points, followed by Yante Maten and J.J. Frazier, with 11 and 10 points, respectively.
“It was a hard-fought game,” head coach Mark Fox said. “It was a tough defeat. Florida’s kids played hard and our kids played hard. It was certainly a disappointing loss. One of the things that we have been able to do is get to the free throw line. We didn’t get to the one-and-one in either half. That made it hard for us.”
The Bulldogs came out hot, hitting two three-pointers in the first five minutes, but it was the down-low play of freshman Derek Ogbeide that highlighted the first half. The Atlanta native used crafty footwork to score six points for the Bulldogs. Georgia rode its hot-shooting into halftime, going on a 7-1 run to end the period. J.J. Frazier drilled a long fade away jumper to put the Bulldogs up 25-19 heading into the locker rooms. Georgia held the Gators to just 24.1-percent shooting from the field in the half.
Florida was first out of the gates, scoring on back-to-back possessions, but Ogbeide quickly answered with a basket of his own. Georgia buckled down on defense holding the Gators scoreless on their next three possessions, while the Bulldogs got baskets from Frazier and Maten to take a seven-point lead with 15 minutes to go. The Gators answered with an 8-0 run taking the lead at 34-33 with over 10 minutes to go.
The final nine minutes of the contest were back and forth with several exchanges of the lead. Georgia grabbed some momentum during a 6-0 run that was capped off by a layup from Maten, but Florida quickly answered with a free throw and a bucket. Senior Kenny Gaines buried a contested three-pointer to tie things up at 47-47 with 3:49 remaining. The Gators scored the next five points, but Gaines hit two three-pointers to give the Bulldogs a chance. Florida hit its free throws down the stretch to ensure the victory.
The Bulldogs hit the road on Saturday to Nashville, Tennesse2e to face Vanderbilt at 12 p.m. ET. The game will be shown on ESPN2.