Saturday, Jan. 19, 2019
ATHENS, Ga. – The Georgia men’s basketball team lost to the Florida Gators 62-52 in a sold-out Stegeman Coliseum on Saturday afternoon.
Junior guard Jordan Harris was the lead scorer (10) of the afternoon in his first start since his freshman year.
The SEC leader in rebounds Nicolas Claxton, a sophomore forward, led the team in rebounds (12) for the 12th time this season in addition to fielding nine points. Senior forward E’Torrion Wilridge played a season-high 28 minutes and also tied his career high of boards (8) and points (8).
"These guys turned it on in the second half,” said Georgia head coach Tom Crean. “They came out with a different level of intensity and awareness. We were cutting. I was almost hoarse trying to get them to cut off the slots in the first half. Teams want to sit on the elbow area right now on us and dare us to shoot the ball. The only way to get more good looks is get those cuts off the slot. All of the sudden in the second half we do that, and we're scoring easily. Again, it's one of those games where play one way in one half and we're playing one way the second half. We just got to mature and grow through it."
Both teams showed a strong defense holding the score at zero for the first three minutes of the game. A tip in from Florida (10-7, 2-3) at 17:47 was the first basket to start the Gator lead and an 8-0 run. Harris notched the first Georgia (9-8, 1-4) points with a free throw as the Bulldogs started to chip away at the gap.
Florida kept a 10-point margin but the Bulldogs kept pushing forward. A pair of free throws from Wilridge and a three from junior guard Tyree Crump brought Georgia within four points, 16-12, the closest they came during the half. A pair of free throws from Harris put Georgia on a 5-0 run in the last two minutes of the half but Florida held the lead 33-23 going into halftime.
In the first three minutes of the second half the Bulldogs went on an 8-0 run to bring the score to 33-31. The run was comprised of Claxton, sophomore guard Teshaun Hightower, senior guard William Jackson, and Harris. A trio of 3-pointers in a row from Claxton, Jackson, and Hightower respectively over two minutes tied the game 40-all at 15:40 remaining. A tip-in from Wilridge gave Georgia the lead for the first time, 42-40, at 13:44.
The Gators tied the game then reclaimed the lead 43-42 at 12:01. The Bulldogs answered to take back the advantage 44-43 seconds later. A Hightower basket started a 6-0 run for Georgia rendering the 48-43 score. Florida narrowed the difference to one then took back the lead 50-48 with six minutes remaining. The teams traded scores but Florida continued to pull ahead. A pair of free throws confirmed the 62-52 Florida win.
Georgia finished the contest with a slightly better shooting percentage at 39.5-percent compared to Florida’s 39.3-percent. In the second half, the Bulldogs shot 57.9-percent and held the Gators to 34.5-percent, but it wasn’t enough to overtake the lead.
Georgia travels to Louisiana on to take on the LSU Tigers at 7 pm on Wednesday, January 23on the SEC Network.