Gainesville, FL (SportsNetwork.com) - The seventh-ranked Florida Gators will
attempt to stay perfect at the O'Connell Center on Tuesday night when they
play host to the Georgia Bulldogs in SEC action.
Georgia waded in mediocrity during its non-conference schedule with six wins
and six losses, but it has shined since entering SEC play. The Bulldogs opened
up league action on Jan. 8 with a 70-64 overtime victory at Missouri, thus
ending the nation's longest home winning streak, and they followed that up
with a 66-58 home victory versus Alabama on Saturday.
Florida suffered a pair of difficult road losses this season at Wisconsin
(59-53) and Connecticut (65-64), but it has otherwise been flawless, running
out to a 13-2 record, including a 9-0 mark at the O'Connell Center. The Gators
are also off to a 2-0 start in the SEC, beating South Carolina at home (74-58)
before outlasting Arkansas on the road on Saturday, 84-82 in overtime.
The Gators lead the all-time series with the Bulldogs, 108-99, which includes
11 straight victories at home.
The Bulldogs set the tone early in their most recent contest by opening up an
11-point lead over Alabama at the half, and while their advantage dipped to
just three points midway through the second stanza, they hung on for the
impressive victory. It was a poor field-goal shooting afternoon (.326), but
they held Alabama to just 36.5 percent from the floor and outscored it at the
free-throw line, 31-16. Charles Mann and Kenny Gaines both poured in 22
points, with Mann doing so on a busy day at the charity stripe (13-of-18) and
Gaines draining 4-of-7 from beyond the arc.
Georgia has steadily outpaced its opponents this season, shooting 46.8 percent
from the field for 71.2 ppg while allowing 68.4 ppg on 40.2 percent shooting.
It also boasts an impressive +4.1 rebounding margin, but its lackluster free-
throw percentage (.648) has been a detriment. Mann leads the way with 14.1 ppg
on 46.5 percent from the field but has more turnovers (39) than assists (38).
Gaines (12.2 ppg) and Nemanja Djurisic (10.5 ppg) also score in double figures
on a nightly basis.
The Gators had their hands full on Saturday at Bud Walton Arena, one of the
most difficult places to play in the country. After trailing by two in the
waning seconds, they forced overtime on a Scottie Wilbekin bucket, and they
took control in the extra session by opening up on an 11-3 run. They shot a
modest 42.4 percent from the field and committed a game-high 17 turnovers but
made up for it with nine 3-pointers and a solid showing at the foul line (25-
of-34). Dorian Finney-Smith dominated in the paint with 22 points and 15
rebounds, Wilbekin poured in 18 points off the bench and Michael Frazier and
Patric Young registered 15 and 10 points, respectively.
Florida's offense has been stellar all season long, as it shoots 46.4 percent
from the field for 72.7 ppg, but it stands among the nation's elite thanks
mostly to its stout defensive effort, allowing a mere 60.3 ppg on 39.8 percent
shooting. The squad's leading scorer Casey Prather (17.0 ppg, .624 FG
percentage) missed the Arkansas win with a bone bruise and is questionable for
this contest. Wilbekin (12.9 ppg, 3.7 apg, 2.1 spg) is a spark plug on the
perimeter and Frazier (11.9) has made 39-of-81 from 3-point range (.481).
Young (11.9 ppg, 6.1 rpg) and Finney-Smith (10.8 ppg, 8.0 rpg) are an imposing
duo in the frontcourt.
The Sports Network