Coming into Tuesday night, the Florida Gators had faced scrutiny and criticism for what can only be described as a poor performance on the road against Tennessee. In their SEC opener, the Gators could not make the defensive plays needed to win a conference road game. Tonight, versus the Georgia Bulldogs, all eyes would be on the defense.
To match their improved defensive effort in the first half, the boys from old Florida fired away with hot shooting hands that hit 50% from the field and 37% from beyond the arc. The offensive outburst that produced a 14-point halftime lead was led by Bradley Beal (12 points) and Patric Young (6 points). Beal was able to begin pulling out of a recent slump, hitting four of five shots from three-point land.
More important than one guy having a hot half for the Gators was the improved off-ball movement. Against Tennessee, it seemed like the offense was stagnant and the guards were content to take the contested shots. Tonight, the Gators were able to move the ball and take the open shots Georgia was providing.
In the second half it was more of the same from the staunch Florida defense that held Georgia to 36.4% shooting on the night. Florida managed to build a 25-point lead with 11 minutes to play. After that it seemed like the Gators took a nap, letting a Georgia team that had barely managed a point a minute to come storming back cutting the lead to 13. This is the exact point in a game that recent Florida teams would struggle to put the kill-shot in on an opponent, making a game unnecessarily close and languishing. Tonight however the Gators displayed a killer instinct and reopened a 20 point lead in the closing minutes on the way to its first conference win.
In the end the Gators had all the good numbers; 6 steals, 6 blocks, and 7 turnovers to 8 assists. From the charity stripe the Gators managed 83% and 47% from the field.
--Mike Rosario needs to start taking better shots and moving the ball around the offense. It seems to me that every time he gets the ball he shoots.
-- Kenny Boynton is buying fouls on three point shots, right?
--Will Yeguete picked up 4 fouls in what is becoming a disturbing trend for the sixth man, his energy off the bench is always such a good weapon
-- Is there anything quite as sweet sounding as "Georgia has yet to take a lead"?
The Gators will pack it up and head north to meet South Carolina on the 14th, still seeking their first true road win of the year.