On this Valentine’s Day, the Gators have a chance to repay another recent defeat against the Georgia Bulldogs (9 p.m., SEC Network or WatchESPN).
Florida faded down the stretch in Athens just two weeks ago, falling by a 72-60 count in a game in which the Gators did not shoot well, failed to contain Georgia big man Yante Maten, and had multiple seven-minute stretches of game clock that featured just one made field goal.
And, in another parallel to South Carolina’s triumph, Georgia hasn’t won since. The Bulldogs have three straight losses by double figures, in fact, road defeats to Mississippi State and Vanderbilt and a thumping by Auburn in Stegeman Coliseum, all of which have come as the Bulldogs failed to score 70 points — something they have done without the benefit of overtime just once in SEC play apart from that 72-60 win over Florida.
That this Wednesday’s game is now one in which Florida must hold serve at home to avoid a painful loss that would significantly impact its NCAA Tournament positioning should be obvious. That the Gators need to lock in on defending Maten well — he’s the Dawgs’ fulcrum on offense — is also obvious. And it’s no secret that the Gators do have the talent on offense, from Chris Chiozza through Egor Koulechov, to score more than 60 points even on Georgia’s stingy defense.
But winning tonight would also give the Gators back-to-back wins in SEC midweek games for the first time since the first week of January — so it’s equally obvious that Florida has had significant difficulty sustaining success of late.
May that change on this night.