The Gators men's basketball team took down Georgia, picking up its first SEC win under first-year head coach Todd Golden on January 7, 2023. (Photo courtesy of @GatorsMBK via Twitter.)

Gators Men’s Hoops Defeat Georgia 82-75, Golden Gains First SEC Win

The Gators men’s basketball team (8-7, 1-2) welcomed former Gators head coach Mike White back to the O’Dome as he led Georgia (11-4,1-1) in the contest. The Orange & Blue fought to overcome an early deficit and finish with an 82-75 victory, picking up its first SEC win of the season and the first for Gators head coach Todd Golden.

Dawgs Keep it Close

Florida came out of the first half with a 39-34 lead over the Bulldogs, but Georgia wasn’t ready to give up on this dog fight just yet. Georgia guard Terry Roberts brought the Black & Red back into the contest with 11 points in the second half. Roberts led Georgia’s scoring efforts with a game-high 25 points, eight rebounds and four assists.

Behind the efforts of Roberts, the Bulldogs managed to keep the game close, connecting on 7-of-10 shots from beyond the arc in the second half.

Golden praised Georgia for their ability to hit difficult shots down the stretch.

The final three-pointer for the Bulldogs came from Georgia guard Kario Oquendo on an assist from Roberts with just 23 seconds left on the clock. Oquendo’s shot came as a response to Florida guard Riley Kugel‘s first dunk of the final moments of the game. The Bulldogs had now cut their deficit to three points, trailing the Gators 78-75.

Gators Finish with a Bang

However, Florida guard Kyle Lofton was not deterred, sinking two shots from the free throw line and putting the Gators up 80-75, with 17 seconds remaining. Then, a Kugel jam would cap off Florida’s 82-75 victory over its SEC rival. An exciting finish to a thrilling contest, which kept fans on the edge of their seats throughout the second.

Numbers to Note

Lofton led Florida’s scoring efforts, recording a season-high 18 points.

Golden shared how proud he was of Lofton’s efforts against Georgia.

The fifth-year senior guard was followed by five other Gators who reached double digits. Kugel came in clutch for the Orange & Blue, putting up six of Florida’s last eight points.

Additionally, Florida guard Will Richard reached a season-high nine rebounds, while adding 14 points for the Gators. Off the bench, Florida guard Myreon Jones tallied a season-best 13 points. Behind Jones was Florida’s Kowacie Reeves and Colin Castleton who had 12 points apiece.

Castleton also recorded eight rebounds, seven blocks and five assists, an all-around performance he strives for each time he takes the court.

Furthermore, Golden commended his squad for the contribution that each player brought to the game.

White Returns to the 352

While White’s return to Gainesville was a much anticipated one among Gator fans, respect was shown on both sides of the court. From a Rowdy Reptile holding up a sign that read, “Thank you, Mike White,” to Castleton speaking on his respect for his former coach, to White sharing his appreciation for his old home postgame.

Up Next for Gators

The Florida Gators men’s basketball team will next travel to LSU to take an on a 12-2, 1-1 SEC Tigers squad on Tuesday. Tip off is slated for 7 p.m.

Meanwhile, the Lady Gators will continue the Florida-Georgia rivalry on the hardwood at Exactech Arena at Stephen C. O’Connell Center on Sunday. Tip off is set for noon.

About Ellie Shreve

Ellie is a third-year sports and media journalism major at the University of Florida.

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