The Florida Gator men’s basketball team hasn’t had much recent success in Athens, Georgia as the Bulldogs had won three of the last four meetings with Florida on their home floor. In fact, the last time the Bulldogs beat a top 25 team was last February against Florida.
It looked early like Florida might go down again, but after trailing by three points at the half, Florida came roaring back in the second half to beat Georgia 64-47 in Stegeman Coliseum Wednesday night.
Florida (15-2, 5-0 SEC) started slowly and Georgia (7-11, 1-4 SEC) came out fast going up 6-0 in the opening minutes including a Kentavious Caldwell-Pope trey. He would finish with a team high 16 points. Moments later Florida found themselves down 8-2 before head coach Billy Donovan called his first timeout.
The timeout would prove to be critical as Florida went on a nice run to stay in the game early. Despite cold shooting from everyone except for guard Scottie Wilbekin, Florida found itself down at halftime but Gator coach Billy Donovan had his own take on why the team struggled.
Florida stayed in the game early despite cold shooting in part because Georgia committed nine turnovers in the first half and Georgia did well in part because the team surpassed its season average of five 3’s made with six in the first 20 minutes. Despite the uncharacteristic play of the Gators, Donovan found his team down only three points at halftime, 27-24.
Opening the second half, the Gators came blasting out of the gate as within the first minute Wilbekin hit a three off a Mike Rosario assist that knotted the game at 27 all. Wilbekin would finish with a game high 17 points. Less than a minute later, Rosario would connect on a three of his own on an assist from Erik Murphy that gave Florida its first lead of the game.
In a night and day story of two halves, Patric Young may have had the turning point in the game. Up by 10 with just over 10 minutes to play, the junior showed some footwork. He stunned his defender with a spin move, layup and the foul. Young would miss the free throw, but the damage was already done. Florida was up by 12 at that point and would not go under a double digit lead the rest of the way as the Gators went on to win 64-47. The 47 points marks the ninth time Florida has kept a team under 50 this season.
Despite a 17 point margin of victory, Donovan believes grind it out games like this are very healthy for his veteran ball club.
The Gators will yet again be on the road this Saturday as they take on another Bulldog squad in Mississippi State. As always, that game can be heard on ESPN Radio 850/900 as well as our sister station Country 103.7 the Gator.