ATHENS, Ga. — Kevarrius Hayes saw no reason to worry even as Florida was letting another second-half lead fade away.
“Trailing by five, we had a lot of fight in us,” he said. “We understand the game is nowhere near over until the final buzzer. The game of basketball can change quickly.”
KeVaughn Allen scored 13 points, Noah Locke added 10 points and the Gators rallied from a brief second-half deficit to beat Georgia 62-52 on Saturday.
After losing to South Carolina, No. 3 Tennessee and No. 24 Mississippi State by an average less than five points, Florida (10-7, 2-3 Southeastern Conference) closed out the game by holding Georgia without a field goal for over nine minutes at the end of the second half.
Rayshaun Hammonds, Georgia’s leading scorer this season, was held without a point for the second time in the last five games. Second-leading scorer Nicolas Claxton had nine points and 12 rebounds.
Jordan Harris, taking Turtle Jackson’s spot in the starting lineup, had 10 points and was the only Bulldog to finish in double figures. It was an agonizing afternoon for Georgia (9-8, 1-4), which shot 5 for 14 beyond the arc and is 9 for 41 on 3s in the last two games.
The Bulldogs were outscored 28-10 in points off turnovers.
“We can just continue to drill on that and make sure guys secure the ball when they catch it and protect it because guys are swatting down trying to take it from you,” Harris said. “I think we’ve got to be aware of our surroundings when we catch the ball.”
Georgia, which has lost three straight and four of five, led by five on Harris’ reverse layup with 9:38 left in the game, but they didn’t score another field goal until 22 seconds remained.
The Bulldogs pulled within four midway through the first half before the Gators pushed the lead to 13 on Keith Stone’s dunk and Mike Okauru’s 3. Florida’s zone defense was active with four different players blocking a shot and holding Georgia to six field goals.
“I thought our body language, our mental toughness — I saw a little bit of difference (today), especially defensively,” Gators coach Mike White said. “I thought we sat down in a stance and didn’t hope for stops. Instead we decided to get them.”
Florida: Johnson had eight points and seven rebounds in his first career start. He joined Locke and Andrew Nembhard to give the Gators three freshmen in the lineup. … Johnson replaced G Jalen Hudson, who had three points and four fouls in 11 minutes. … Stone hit the floor hard in the first two minutes of the second half as he fouled Harris on a Georgia fast break. After writhing in pain for a couple minutes, Stone was helped off the floor and into the locker room. He did not return and was later diagnosed with a right knee sprain. He’ll undergo an MRI Sunday in Gainesville. … Allen has scored in double figures in 10 of the last 11 games. … Locke had his eighth straight game in double figures, the most by Florida freshman since Bradley Beal had 10 straight in 2011-12.
Georgia: Jackson did not start for the first time this season and finished with six points in 16 minutes. It was Harris’ first career start. … The Bulldogs announced their third sellout of the season and have four more games with no tickets remaining at the 10,523-seat Stegeman Coliseum.
The school announced that Georgia coach Tom Crean’s mother, Marjorie Crean, passed away this week in Michigan following a long illness. She was 80. Funeral arrangements are pending, but Crean will not miss a game.
Florida: Host Texas A&M on Tuesday.
Georgia: At LSU on Wednesday.
Percentages: FG .393, FT .571.
3-Point Goals: 10-27, .370 (Allen 3-7, Locke 2-6, Hudson 1-2, Nembhard 1-2, Okauru 1-2, Stone 1-2, Ballard 1-5, K.Johnson 0-1).
Team Rebounds: 3. Team Turnovers: 9 (28 PTS).
Blocked Shots: 6 (Bassett 2, K.Johnson 2, Hayes, Stone).
Turnovers: 9 (Hayes 2, Hudson 2, Nembhard 2, Allen, K.Johnson, Okauru).
Steals: 9 (Allen 2, Hayes 2, Hudson 2, Locke 2, Nembhard).
Technical Fouls: None.
Percentages: FG .395, FT .684.
3-Point Goals: 5-14, .357 (Jackson 2-3, Claxton 1-1, Crump 1-3, Hightower 1-3, Hammonds 0-2, Harris 0-2).
Team Rebounds: 2. Team Turnovers: 20 (10 PTS).
Blocked Shots: 2 (Claxton, Ogbeide).
Turnovers: 20 (Claxton 6, Hammonds 4, Crump 2, Harris 2, Wilridge 2, Fagan, Hightower, Ogbeide, Sargiunas).
Steals: 3 (Claxton, Harris, Jackson).
Technical Fouls: None.
Gator Football got their 10th win in the state of Georgia. And the Gator Basketball team just got their 10th win of the season in the state of Georgia. I’ve NEVER seen a Gator ‘W’ over U.G.A. disappoint. Go Gators!
Right, gi! No such thing as a disappointing win over UGA. Any SEC road win is a good win. Way to close it out strong, Gators!!
You got that right brother! I wouldn’t care if it was a game of ‘Chutes & Ladders’….beating those guys are great !!!!! Go Gators!!!!!!!
Way to use defense to fight back when things were starting to look bad. We can never beat the dawgs too much. Go Gators!
Good win on the road especially against Georgia! And Georgia sucks so now I’m beginning to understand why the St John’s river flows North!!! Go Gators!!!
Hope Stone is OK!
Good coaching! Good effort! GOOOOOO GATORS!
I was gonna say “Beat a worse team and you’re National Championship Contendahs” but I won’t. I don’t want to rain on anyone’s parade.
As a fellow Gator, I thank you for that, aintpc. I think we all know it’s nowhere near as significant as hanging on against UT would’ve been, but it’s a start and beats heck out of losing.
I have no true idea, but I wonder if Hudson’s possible disappointment with his NBA hopes from last year has mentally affected him. He just doesn’t seem into being here and who knows how that’s bleeding over into his practice. It’s obvious through his playing time dwindling. I’m afraid that he’s either going to either suffer through the rest of the season, regain his confidence, or end up simply leaving the team. I really hope it’s the second one.
I think you are on to something. He has been a huge disappointment. It’s like he has lost his game and can’t find it. I had him pegged for 16 ppg before the season. Now, I just scratch my head and wonder what has happened. His- poor play has made it harder for White to find the correct lineup at specific times in the game. I really thought this team would make the NCAA with Hudson as a scoring machine. Now, I’m not even sure about the NIT. There is just nobody who has stepped up to average 16-20 per game and hit 40=45 % from the 3 pt line. The future, however, does look bright for 2019-20 and beyond.
I felt the exact same way going into the season. Felt with Hudson’s experience and scoring, we’d be scoring better than last year. Of course, I also thought that we’d have contributions from Stokes and Gak in the front court as well, but unfortunately the team is essentially in the same situation as last year, except no 15 ppg from Hudson, and the strong “get on my shoulders” leadership of Chiozza.
Corey: Agreed 100%
He needs to step up and show some senior leadership, particularly for the young players. No excuses!
Nice stat line for KJ. 8 and 7 with 2 assists and 2 blocks is a well rounded game. Good to see all three freshmen continue to develop.
the frosh may have to carry this team as the seniors are consistently inconsistent. Hudson is still looking for his confidence. He lost it somewhere during training camp and it hasn’t returned.
Allen’s been playing like a senior all-star of late, leading by example, but more so in this game than previously. I thought this was the Gators most complete game in SEC play. No let up. Hope they keep that up.
It has been nice to see Allen start to really seem to accept the fact that he needs to be the senior leader to push them through the end of games. Hayes has always been a give 110% guy, but Allen is the one to be the go-to guy at the end of games….get to the free throw line, where he is essentially money when the game is on the line.
Seems like maybe Coach White has decided that he will see how well we can do with the 3 freshman leading the way. I hope he continues to start and play them more. They are obviously a big part of the future of Gator basketball. Every game is going to be a scrap, so it will hopefully pay off next year and farther out.
We must be the only team in the history of the SEC to start freshmen.
LOL. Yeah right. Let’s see, Dominique Wilkins, Shaq, Bradley Beal, John Wall, and Anthony Davis… to name a few freshmen who started and performed amazingly.
I suppose you can manipulate stats to say what you want, but it’s concerning that Ballard Bassett, Hudson, and Stone, all 6’5″ or taller, played a combined 48 minutes and got one rebound between them.
I relish all wins over Georgia. We’re still good enough to push them a bit further into the SEC ditch.
Perhaps Coach White will let Allen and Locke work together more in the future. I’m anxious for Keith Stone, one of my favorite Gator players.