Florida vs. Georgia score: Gators slide back with devastating upset loss to Dawgs

By Adam Silverstein
March 2, 2019
Florida vs. Georgia score: Gators slide back with devastating upset loss to Dawgs

Image Credit: UAA Communications

Any progress the Florida Gators had made from their five-game winning streak got knocked down significantly Saturday night when they allowed the sub-.500 Georgia Bulldogs to enter the Stephen C. O’Connell Center as 11.5-point underdogs and come away with an upset victory. Florida (17-11, 9-7 SEC) suffered its worst loss of the season, while Georgia (11-19, 2-14 SEC) — a Quadrant 3 team — snapped a nine-game losing streak by dominating the majority of the game before winning 61-55.

Let’s take a look at what went down in UF’s devastating loss.

It was over when … Senior guard KeVauaghn Allen chose to take an off-balance hook shot with his team down four and 15 seconds left in the game. Allen’s wasted possession gave the Gators no chance of a comeback, but while he was horrific all night, the loss does not fall on his shoulders. Florida as a team went on a 3:54 scoring drought in the second half and did not make a field goal for 8:58. Again, the home team did not make a basket for nearly nine minutes in the second half.

After trailing for nearly the entire first half, UF took a lead with 51 seconds remaining in the period and used a halftime-spanning 10-0 run to go up 34-27 on UGA. However, Georgia answered with a 12-2 scoring stretch of its own early in the second half. The Gators did manage to tie the game but never took the lead for the final 11:38 of the game. UF was on the wrong end of a number of officiating calls and did see a couple UGA miracle buckets find the bottom of the net, but as the more talented team playing at home, none of that is a legitimate excuse.

Exceptional efforts: Freshman point guard Andrew Nembhard got knocked out of the first half with a back injury and was ruled questionable to return with back spasms. Not only did he take the court immediately out of halftime, he played the entire second half and made 2 of 3 shots in that period for eight points. No one else did anything of significance in the game, though redshirt senior G Jalen Hudson posted a team-high 13 points.

Odds and ends: Allen went 1 for 10 from the field and 1 for 6 from long range with three turnovers; he and freshman G Noah Locke combined for a 2 for 11 effort from beyond the arc … Florida made just 23.8 percent of its threes and 37.5 percent of its shots, again falling below 40 percent shooting … the Gators were blitzed in paint scoring (34-22) as Dawgs forward Nicolas Claxton absolutely dominated down low, making 9 of 12 shots and all five free throws for a game-high 25 points … Florida was awesome on the offensive glass (12-2) but only had six second-chance points despite the bevy of opportunities … Georgia led for 28:30 of the 40-minute game including the final 11:38

What it means: This was clearly the Gators’ worst loss of the season as they dropped a game to a Quadrant 3 opponent at home. The Bulldogs entered 109th in the NCAA’s NET ranking. That does not erase all of the progress that Florida made in its five-game winning streak, but it puts a black mark on the team’s resume as it enters an exceedingly difficult stretch of games to close the regular season. Just one game after an NCAA Tournament berth seemed almost a sure thing with a win and a potential No. 4 seed in the SEC Tournament was possible, things have changed. UF is still a tournament team at this juncture, but it will be underdogs in its final two regular season games. If it loses those, it will truly be on the bubble and may need to show the committee that it deserves to be in the field with a strong start to the SEC Tournament. That will be more difficult without the by the team could have earned.

Up next: Florida will host No. 13 LSU on Wednesday at 7 p.m. in a game that will air live nationally on ESPN2. The Gators beat the Tigers 82-77 in overtime on the road back on Feb. 20. Florida closes the season next Saturday at No. 4 Kentucky.

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