Florida's tremendous record in SEC play appeared to be in trouble when I got back from Silver Linings Playbook and Steak 'N Shake with my mom and sister to see the Gators down 6-2 in the first half, and looked even more endangered at 11-2 in the Bulldogs' favor, and never really looked out of danger in the first half, as Georgia scrapped to a 27-24 lead.
Then Florida did its typical second half ignition of afterburners, and throttled the Dawgs for an 64-47 win.
Scottie Wilbekin led the Gators, matching his career high 17 points, all but one scored in the first 21:01 of play, and Kenny Boynton and Erik Murphy added 14 and 13, respectively. Will Yeguete added seven points and 11 rebounds (three offensive, two leading to putbacks, one leading to a foul and a free throw), and all six Gators who scored chipped in six or more points.
But Florida needed all 13 of Wilbekin's points to stay in touch in the first half, as Georgia mostly spent the possessions on which it held the ball for nearly the full shot clock instead of coughing up a turnover getting five threes, including one by Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to beat the halftime horn.
But while Caldwell-Pope did a much better job of getting his points (16 points on 11 shots, leading Georgia in both categories) than he did two weeks ago in Gainesville (when he had 11 on 10 shots), he was, again, a man apart for the Dawgs. Charles Mann sank two threes and three free throws to get his nine points, but had six of Georgia's 16 turnovers, a game-high; Brandon Morris had eight points, but six came after Florida took its double-digit lead for good in the second half; Nemanja Djurisic had seven points, but needed seven shots to get them, and also flopped like Ishtar on a light tap to the jaw by Yeguete.
Florida's just a lot better than Georgia, and a lethargic first half in which Gators not named Wilbekin made four of 19 shots wasn't enough to stop Billy Donovan's team from proving it. Florida's offensive efficiency will likely take a hit after a night like this, but its defensive efficiency was still remarkable, and the Gators now own wins by 33, 22, 21, 31, and 17 over their five SEC foes.
At some point, Florida will play a conference game that goes down to the wire or ends in a loss. I have to think that. It would defy all logic for the Gators to be this much better than the rest of the SEC for 18 straight nights.
But they're almost a third of the way to doing that.