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Florida vs. Georgia, Game Thread: Gators seek sixth straight win

The soft stretch of Florida’s schedule is almost over. The Gators ought to finish it with a win.

NCAA Basketball: Florida at Vanderbilt Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

The Florida Gators have managed the easiest stretch of their SEC schedule quite nicely over the past two weeks, rolling off five straight wins by sandwiching decent wins over less than excellent teams around a takedown of LSU in Baton Rouge.

Capping that streak with a sixth straight win in Saturday night’s meeting with Georgia (8:30 p.m., SEC Network or WatchESPN) would be a nice thing.

The Gators have plenty of reason to be confident about their chances, too. Georgia is 1-14 against SEC foes, its lone win coming against Vanderbilt at home in January, and the Bulldogs have just one win since then — a bizarre upset of Texas in the SEC-Big 12 Challenge in which Tom Crean’s team posted an effective field goal percentage of nearly 80 percent.

It suffices to say that they have not been as hot since. Georgia did crack 60 percent in eFG% against Auburn earlier this week, but still lost to the Tigers, and their four straight losses by four or fewer points despite putting up a point or more per possession would be more impressive had the Bulldogs not obviously given up even more points per possession in those games.

Georgia still looks like a team with no great strengths other than offensive rebounding and drawing fouls, and those talents didn’t help them all that much when Florida played in Athens earlier this year, as Florida weathered a second-half run and claimed a 62-52 win. Playing in front of a home crowd, Florida should be able to duplicate or better that performance.

And if the Gators do, they will go into a rugged final week of the season with games against LSU and Kentucky as a near-lock to make March Madness, and as a loose team that would be playing almost entirely with house money.

If they don’t, the trap door to falling out of the NCAA Tournament field will remain one the Gators could at least theoretically plummet through in the next two weeks.