Georgia came oh-so-close to securing a signature win for the season.
Taking No. 23 Florida to overtime Saturday, the Bulldogs gave the Gators every bit of a challenge they could’ve hoped for. But after Florida guard Canyon Barry sank two free throws with 18 seconds to go in the game, Georgia guard J.J. Frazier was unable to hit a 3-pointer to tie the game. Forward John Egbunu then closed the game out by making one of two free throws to give the Gators a thrilling 80-76 win at the newly renovated O’Connell Center.
Georgia’s inefficiency from behind the 3-point line cost it in the final moments. Down by three points with less than two minutes to go in overtime, Georgia guards Jordan Harris and J.J. Frazier had wide-open 3-point attempts to try and tie the game on the same possession.
While the Bulldogs led for the vast majority of the game, the two teams were neck-and-neck throughout. The largest lead any team had was Georgia holding an eight-point advantage with 16:59 to go in the second half. But the Gators were able to close that swiftly on a quick 5-0 run.
With 24.8 seconds to go in regulation, Florida guard Kasey Hill drove to the hoop following a steal and was fouled by Harris. Hill made the first free throw before missing the second. But the Gators came up with an offensive rebound on the miss from Egbunu, who then missed a follow-up shot. The ball went out of bounds off Georgia, giving the Gators a chance to win.
Off the ensuing possession, Hill drove to the hoop with Frazier guarding him. The two were then tangled up and fell to the floor. A blocking foul was called on Frazier, and Hill went to the line for a second time. Hill, again, made the first free throw before missing the second. Frazier’s attempt to win the game with a deep shot at the buzzer missed, ending regulation in a tie at 67.
Georgia (11-6, 3-2 SEC) jumped out to a quick start and led for 35:11 of the game.
But the Bulldogs had to play the the home stretch of regulation and overtime without forward Yante Maten, who fouled out with 3:51 left to play in the second half. Maten, who dealt with foul trouble all game, finished with 15 points in only 19 minutes of play. When Maten fouled out, Georgia was leading 64-59. From there, Florida closed regulation and overtime on a 21-12 run.
Florida (14-3, 5-0) got a superb performance from Barry, who scored a team-high 27 points on 7-of-13 shooting.
Four who mattered
Frazier: The senior guard scored 25 points on 10-of-22 shooting. While he made 3 of his 10 3-point attempts, Frazier drove to the basket repeatedly and made a couple of circus layups in the process. Frazier also had five assists and four rebounds.
Barry: The graduate transfer had himself a day off the bench, lighting up the Bulldogs from the outside. Barry made five of his eight 3-point attempts to go along with his 27-point performance. Mimicking his father, NBA Hall of Famer Rick Barry, Barry made all eight of his free throws underhanded. He also converted two four-point plays.
Georgia guard Juwan Parker: Parker has really carved out a niche as a mid-range shooter, finding spots on the floor through pump-fakes and slashing. Parker went 6-of-13 shooting from the floor and drained a 3-pointer with a defender guarding him. His day ended with a career-high 17 points.
Florida forward Keith Stone: Stone went 3-of-4 shooting from behind the arc in a 17-point effort. With Georgia leading by four just before halftime, Stone hit a 3 to cut the lead to 33-32. Stone went 5-of-6 shooting from the floor.
When Egbunu hit his free-throw attempt with five seconds to go, it ended Georgia’s chances of sending the game to double-overtime.
Advantage inside: Georgia played to its strength inside to win the rebounding battle as the Bulldogs brought down 41 rebounds to Florida’s 32. In the end, this helped Georgia earn 10 second-chance points, with eight coming in the first half. Florida did do a better job rebounding the basketball in the second half and came up with two of its eight offensive rebounds at critical times in the closing minutes of the game. But Georgia was able to control the game when it did due to its presence inside.
Advantage outside: When it came to the perimeter game, the Gators did a much better job than the Bulldogs. Florida shot 39 percent from behind the arc with nine of its 23 3-point attempts going through the basket. Georgia was practically dead in the water each time Barry was left open for a 3-point attempt, at least in the first half. The Bulldogs haven’t been a great 3-point shooting team and only made four of its 16 attempts from behind the arc. Outside of Frazier, Georgia hasn’t gotten much 3-point shooting help.
Missing Maten: You have to wonder how this game would’ve gone if Maten didn’t have to sit much, considering he scored 15 points in 19 minutes. When Georgia was able to feed Maten in one-on-one opportunities, he made the most of it by going 5-of-6 shooting from the field. Maten also got to the line three times and made five of his six free-throw attempts. Not having Maten down the stretch was a huge blow to Georgia but one it almost overcame.
Wilridge sees the floor: Having not played double-digit minutes since Georgia’s win over Charleston Southern, sophomore forward E’Torrion Wilridge played 17 minutes and scored four points. Wilridge saw his playing time increase due to the foul trouble Maten and forward Derek Ogbeide endured in the first half.
Technicals assessed: In the first half, Pape Diatta contested a breakaway layup attempt from Kasey Hill and fouled him. After the play, Diatta and John Egbunu bumped each other and had to be separated. Both players were given technical fouls.
Streak continues: With Georgia dropping this game at Florida, another year is added to the last time the Bulldogs won in Gainesville. The last time Georgia came out of the O’Connell Center victorious was in 2002.
They said it
Georgia head coach Mark Fox on Barry’s performance against his team: “He made the 3-point shots. He made some in great rhythm. Give him credit, he was the difference in the game for them.”
Parker on losing a close game to a rival: “It’s definitely a heartbreaker. Especially in a game where everyone on the team competed and played as hard as they possibly could, you hate to lose like that.”
Barry on being a productive sixth man for the Gators: “I try to play my game. Let the game come to me. Read the defense. See what I can get. Obviously, my teammates have done a great job finding me and I’ve been able to shoot well.”
Georgia heads home for a quick turnaround as Vanderbilt comes to Athens on Tuesday for a 9 p.m. tip.