SEC: Georgia fades in loss to No. 8 Florida 64-47

BY PAUL NEWBERRY AP SPORTS WRITER ATHENS, Ga. (AP) – Georgia started strong, looking nothing like the team that got blown out in Gainesville two weeks ago. The second half was more familiar for the Bulldogs.
Scottie Wilbekin matched a career high with 17 points and No. 8 Florida romped past another Southeastern Conference opponent, beating Georgia 64-47 on Wednesday night. Florida (15-2, 5-0 SEC) trailed 27-24 at the break, making just 1 of 9 attempts beyond the 3-point arc. But the Gators quickly turned things around after the break. Wilbekin and Mike Rosario hit consecutive 3s and forced Georgia into three straight turnovers. The Gators led the rest of way, holding Georgia (7-11, 1-4) to only one field goal in the first 11 1-2 minutes of the second half. "A tale of two halves," Bulldogs coach Mark Fox said. "We didn't start the second half well at all. We just couldn't stabilize our defense in the second half. We just couldn't find a way to get stops in the second half, and they shot the ball very well." Florida knocked down 7 of 11 from outside the stripe after halftime and turned up the defensive pressure, limiting Georgia to 32 percent shooting (6 of 19) from the field. The Bulldogs finished with 17 turnovers overall, compared to just seven for Florida. "We knew it was going to be a grind-it-out, physical game," Gators coach Billy Donovan said. "They were not going to get in a running game with us. They were going to run some clock. They forced us to dig a little deeper." Wilbekin, who was averaging 8.3 points a game, equaled his career best from a November victory over Central Florida. He scored 13 in the first half, helping keep the Gators close. "My shots were falling," Wilbekin said. "They were opening up the lane. I was able to drive in the first half. They made it easy for me." Kenny Boynton added 14 points, while Erik Murphy had 13. Despite never leading in the first half, Florida added to its run of dominance in conference play. The Gators have won their first five SEC games by an average of nearly 25 points. "Scottie and the Georgia turnovers kept us close," Donovan said. "We could've been down 10 or 12. To only be down by three at the half, we were fortunate." Florida already had beaten Georgia 77-44 two weeks ago in Gainesville, but the Bulldogs were more competitive in this one, at least for a half. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope led the home team with 16 points. No other Georgia player was in double figures. "We were feeling good about the first half," Caldwell-Pope said. "We just wanted to throw the first punch, and we did. To start the second half, we gave up a couple of 3s and the momentum." Before a half-filled Stegeman Coliseum, the Bulldogs went right at the Gators from the opening tip, scoring the first six points and quickly building an 11-2 lead. Florida tied it a couple of times in the opening half but, surprisingly, could never get ahead. Georgia stayed on top with accurate shooting from beyond the arc, knocking down 6 of 11 by halftime. The Gators, by comparison, made just 1 of 9. Caldwell-Pope finished off the half by swishing a long 3-pointer just before the buzzer, sending the Bulldogs racing off the court with the lead. It didn't last. Florida has won 17 of the last 20 in the series and made up for a 76-62 loss in Athens late last season. "We remembered what happened last year," Wilbekin said. "We weren't going to let that happen again." Georgia was coming off its first SEC win of the season, a 67-58 victory over LSU. But the Bulldogs just didn't have enough talent or depth to knock off the Gators, having already lost non-conference games at home to Youngstown State, Southern Miss and Iona. "They played harder than us in the first half," Boynton said. "Coach wanted us to come out in the second half and, no matter what we had going offensively, just get back together on defense. We tried to push up on them defensively in the second half to take away their 3-point shots and force them to drive." It worked. After doing so much damage from 3-point range, the Bulldogs got off only one long-range attempt in the final 20 minutes (and made it, too). The Bulldogs' offensive woes were summed up by Kenny Gaines, who went up for a dunk with about 5 minutes left but didn't even clear the rim. The crowd groaned, many of them deciding that was a good time to head for home. By the end, there were only a smattering of fans left, most of them wearing blue. --- Follow Paul Newberry on Twitter at www.twitter.com/pnewberry1963 © 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


More Sports

High School Basketball

Lady Cougars get first win; Heritage girls undefeated

County basketball lineups were pushed to the limit by non-region foes in early season action on Thursday. The included Newnan and The Herita ... Read More


Vikings split matches at Whitewater

Northgate’s wrestling team improved its record to 2-1 after splitting matches on Thursday at Whitewater. The Vikings pulled out a 38-3 ... Read More


high School Basketball

New league, new coach, same goals for Crusaders

Central Christian head boys basketball coach Buddy Woolf can’t help but get excited when he thinks about this season, which begins ton ... Read More


4 Lady Vikings earn All-Region first-team honors

On the heels of a successful 25-8 season that included winning a Region 4-AAAAA softball title, Northgate is well represented on this year&r ... Read More


High School Basketball

Northgate swept in Region 4-AAAAA debut

Both Northgate basketball teams played with a split personality Tuesday in Region 4-AAAAAA openers against visiting Drew. The Dr. Jekyll and ... Read More

High School Swimming

Northgate lineups combine for seven state times

Rivals Starr's Mill and McIntosh made the largest waves while separated by one point at last week's Big Splash Invitational, hosted by White ... Read More