Florida finally faced some resistance against Georgia.
Just a little, though. Certainly not enough to change the inevitable in what’s becoming a ridiculously one sided rivalry.
Chris Chiozza led the way with fifteen points, three other Gators scored in double figures and Florida forced 16 Georgia turnovers en route to a somewhat convincing 72-60 road victory, and this the season sweep, over the Bulldogs. The win is Florida’s fourth straight over Georgia, and 28th in the last 34 games.
They had their frightening moments in this one, though.
Georgia started the game by scoring the first five points, and the Gators responded with a 30-9 rip that seemed to put the game away. The Dogs looked listless offensively, forcing bad shots, turning it over and even missing a layup, while Florida happily picked up points in transition. It looked very much like what we’ve seen from the Gators the past four games, in which they bludgeoned their opponents- one of which was Kentucky- by a combined 126 points.
But then Florida went cold offensively, really cold, and allowed Georgia to slowly climb back into the game. The Gators missed their next ten shots before Kasey Hill finally ended the slump with an elbow jumper. By that time, Georgia had scored fifteen straight points and tied the game with another bucket after Chiozza made a free throw. Rushed offensive possessions and trying to play in transition when the Dogs had already gotten back on defense led to bad shots and a shooting slump that spanned six minutes.
The Gators then used halftime to regroup, and came out swinging as usual in the second half.
Florida immediately rebuilt the lead back up to ten, where it stayed for most of the second half. Not because the Gators caught fire, mind you, but because Georgia simply stopped scoring. The Bulldogs shot a woeful 19% from the field in the second half sans their last two possessions, which essentially left them in the position of waiting for Florida to make a run to put them away.
And they did.
Georgia had trimmed the lead back down to five, but then they paid the price for their preceding failure to take advantage of Florida’s drought. With 7:31 to go and leading 54-49, Kevaughn Allen came off a screen and drained a three that kick started a backbreaking 16-5 run. In the midst of that run, Yante Maten tried to get the Dogs going with a dunk, but then Chris Chiozza responded with a wild driving layup. And less than a minute later, Canyon Barry landed the dagger three pointer.
That’s what this Florida team is capable of, no matter how bad they may be offensively on a given night and no matter how long they’re cold for. It’s a testament to the Gators’ will that they were able to clamp down defensively for such an extended period of time, because otherwise Florida probably loses this game. Besides, it was always a given that the Gators were going to come back down to earth offensively after enjoying such euphoric highs the last two weeks.
And it speaks volumes about the Gators that they were able to win anyway.