Georgia basketball hunting road upset at Florida, playing ‘downhill’ with confidence

Jaxon Etter has emerged as a valuable contributor for the Bulldogs.

ATHENS —  Georgia basketball is getting a good indicator of just how it measures up as a potential NCAA tournament team, and it’s doing so by playing teams that figure to be a. Part of March Madness.

The Bulldogs (13-8, 6-8 SEC) continue what its sports information department is calling “February Frenzy” with a road trip to play Florida (10-6, 5-4) in Gainesville at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday in the O’Connell Center (TV: SEC Network). Florida opened as a 10-point favorite.

The Gators handled Georgia in Athens earlier this season by a 92-84 count despite the Bulldogs making 54.2 percent of their shots with a season-high 22 assists.

Coach Tom Crean said that looking back, it’s easy to see where Georgia fell short in the first meeting.

“We weren’t nearly aggressive enough in the paint,” Crean said. “We have to be a better rebounding team against them.”

And, Crean said, this time the Bulldogs have to make their free throws after shooting just 13 of 24 from the charity stripe in the first meeting.

Florida will be the bigger, more athletic team, and the Gators will be hungry coming off a hard-fought 75-64 loss at red-hot Arkansas last Tuesday night. Florida led the Razorbacks inside of the 4-minute mark.

This will be only the second game in the last 2 1/2 weeks for Florida, which had its games with LSU (Feb. 6), Tennessee (Feb. 10)  and Texas A&M (Feb. 13) postponed on account of Covid-19 policies.

Gators coach Mike White said his team will be running into a Georgia team that has found its groove with four wins in its past six games.

“They are changing up their defenses more, (and) I think they have found some offensive rhythm,” White said on Friday. “They are just playing well overall.

“They are playing downhill, they are playing with more confidence.”

Florida represents the fourth SEC team in a stretch of five games against projected NCAA tourney teams, with a home game against LSU next Tuesday on deck.

The Gators and Tigers were listed as No. 7 and No. 8 seeds in Friday’s edition of ESPN bracketology. “Did You Know?”

Georgia has won two of the last three meetings with Florida played in Gainesville and led by 22 last season down in Florida before losing.

Tom Crean is 1-1 in Gainesville at UGA, beating Florida 61-55 his first season with the Bulldogs.


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