Georgia needs a miracle now.
Needing a win over a quality opponent to keep its NCAA Tournament hopes alive, the Bulldogs were unable to get the job done against No. 17 Florida. The Gators pulled away in the second half and earned a regular-season sweep over the Bulldogs with a 70-62 victory.
Florida (19-5, 9-2 SEC) jumped out to a 16-point lead in the first half thanks to a hot-shooting start. But with less than nine minutes to go in the opening period, the Bulldogs (13-11, 4-7) put together a 15-0 run to pull within 30-29 at the 5:40 mark. Two minutes later, Georgia found itself tied and feeling good about itself once again.
But that’s as close as Georgia would get to re-taking a lead, which it only held for 1:49 of the game in the opening five minutes.
In the second half, Florida would eventually pull away, handing the Bulldogs their third consecutive loss.
Georgia was paced by junior forward Yante Maten, who finished with 19 points.
Four who mattered
Maten: This time, Maten didn’t have to worry much about foul trouble. As a result, he was the best player on the court and finished with a game-high 19 points on 7-of-15 shooting. But his stellar performance still wouldn’t be enough to get past the Gators.
Georgia guard J.J. Frazier: Frazier played a big role in getting Georgia back in the ball game after falling behind 16 early in the first half. Frazier made two of his five 3-point attempts and scored a total of 18 points.
Florida guard Kasey Hill: Hill was one of four Florida players to reach double figures in scoring with 12 points on 5-of-15 shooting. Hill also dished out a game-high five assists.
Florida guard Chris Chiozza: Chiozza wasn’t much of a factor the first time these two teams played. This time, Chiozza made six of his 10 shot attempts for a team-high 15 points.
At the 16-minute mark of the second half, Florida led 41-38. The Gators were able to then go on a 9-2 run and take control of the game from there. Georgia cut Florida’s lead to five with 7:42 to play, with the Gators going on an ensuing 18-11 run to end the game and win by 12.
Turnovers, the story of the season: Georgia’s problems passing the basketball at an efficient rate has been its Achilles heel all year. Once again, the inability to protect the basketball came back to hurt the Bulldogs in a major way. Florida was able to come up with 12 steals on Georgia’s 16 turnovers. Conversely, the Gators only committed eight turnovers for the entire game. Georgia head coach Mark Fox said he may have to slow the tempo of his offense down since his team has been unable to correct the turnover issues that have plagued it all season.
Poor second-half shooting: It’s simple, really. Georgia’s stagnant offense in the second half did it in, even when it did a decent job masking its defensive deficiencies by switching out of man and zone defenses. After rallying from 16 points down in the first half and converting on 40.6 percent of its shots, Georgia made only eight of 31 shots throughout the second half. Florida held only a three-point lead with 16 minutes to go in the second half with Georgia unable to put together a run.
Stitched up: During the first half, Maten sustained a cut on his lip that required him to exit from the game. He received a couple of stitches and was able to return to the court for the second half.
Ogbeide cleans up: Georgia forward Derek Ogbeide posted a game-best 10 rebounds. It’s the third consecutive game Ogbeide has recorded double-digit rebounds. Ogbeide also added four blocks in the game.
They said it
Fox on his team’s performance: “Our team’s not playing well and that blame lies with me. We’re not nearly the defensive team we’ve been the last four or five years. And then offensively, we’re not playing well. We did not play well (Tuesday). Although Saturday (against South Carolina), I thought we finished at a good rate against a great defensive team on the road. We have to have some more guys finish plays. We didn’t play well. We didn’t start the game well and that certainly is my responsibility.”
Ogbeide on Georgia not being able to carry the first-half rally into the second: “We didn’t come out strong (in the second half) and turnovers just buried us. They piled up and added to the ones in the first half, and they kept on rolling. We couldn’t hold them. We tried to pull it in some more but it didn’t work.”
Frazier on Georgia’s second half issues: “We couldn’t score. We shot 25 percent in the second half, we just couldn't score.”
Georgia hits the road again for a Saturday game against Tennessee at 4 p.m.