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Florida vs. Georgia, Game Thread: Gators looking for restorative home cooking

Florida took a lump on the road at Arkansas. Can the Gators dish one out while hosting Georgia?

NCAA Basketball: Vanderbilt at Florida Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Florida Gators’ return from yet another COVID-19 pause earlier this week did not go as they’d hoped, with Arkansas controlling most of what ended up being a 75-64 win for the Razorbacks in Fayetteville.

But Florida’s Saturday contest against Georgia (3:30 p.m., ESPN2 or ESPN+) should give the Gators a chance to get back to winning ways.

The Gators already have one win over Georgia, and it wasn’t as close as the 92-84 score from January’s meeting in Athens would suggest: Florida made 64 percent of its two and splashed in seven threes, building a lead that grew to 17 points in the second half before a final flurry from the Bulldogs shortened the margin of victory.

And Georgia hasn’t really improved much since, its outlier win over a suddenly scuffling Missouri earlier this week aside. The Bulldogs spent last week getting run over by Tennessee — in one of the Vols’ best offensive games in SEC play — and utterly demolished by Alabama, which hit 18 threes in a 115-82 win. Yes, Georgia knocked off the Jeremiah Tilmon-less Tigers, but their average result is more like the ones posted by the team that spent last week losing than the one that surprised Missouri.

Of course, Florida’s average varies wildly, too — and the Gators’ last two produced losses after four better-than-average games built a nice win streak that serves as the best part of their current NCAA Tournament resume. And if Florida can’t find its shooting stroke, it is very much vulnerable, lacking game-long consistency on offense ever since Keyontae Johnson’s December collapse.

But at home and against a team that it has handled well in recent meetings, Florida should be able to get well on this Saturday. If it doesn’t, the maladies may be more like disease.