Anthony Edwards, Georgia basketball ‘confidence back up’ heading to Florida

Georgia basketball-UGA-Anthony Edwards
Georgia freshman Anthony Edwards soared for 29 points and 15 rebounds in a win over Texas A&M, and now he and the Bulldogs take aim at Florida.

ATHENS — There aren’t many SEC arenas current Georgia basketball players can go into saying “been there, done that” when it comes to having won there.

But Florida is one of them.

The Bulldogs (12-9, 2-6 SEC) play the Gators (13-8, 5-3) at 7 p.m. on Wednesday in Gainesville looking to build off the momentum of their 63-48 win over Texas A&M last Saturday.

“It’s going to be a major challenge for us, but we’re excited and I’m glad we’re going in there off of a win,” Crean said on Tuesday. “Sort of gets our confidence back up. We’ve got some guys that have won in there, so hopefully that helps.”

Georgia’s 61-55 win over Florida at the O’Connell Center last season represented the program’s only road SEC win of last season.

This year’s Bulldogs have already eclipsed last season’s win total, and with freshman Anthony Edwards playing his best basketball, is on the uptick.

“He’s making steps every day in practice, (and) then it’s just a matter of them carrying over to the games,” Crean said. “I think that’s definitely what we saw the other day. I mean h scored in a variety of ways. He scored off his defense and he did sec a great job rebounding the ball defensively.

“He attacked the rim, he got catch and shoot threes, he did things off the dribble, he moved the ball, he moved without the ball.”

Edwards scored 29 points and pulled down 15 rebounds against the Aggies in 39 minutes.

The game before, against Missouri, Edwards played the full 40 minutes and recorded his first career double-double with 23 points and 10 rebounds in the 72-69 road loss.

Crean said the pace of the games has enabled Edwards to play more minutes.

“The fatigue level is not there,” Crean said. “We’re at that point of the season where he can do more of those types of things.”

While Edwards continues to rise — the leading freshman scorer in the nation (19.3 points per game) and one of only two freshmen on the Wooden Award Watch List — the Bulldogs continue to evolve.

Georgia, with 10 newcomers and nine freshmen, is very much still a work in progress.

“We’re not consistent enough — there’s not enough (consistency) for us to have an identity,” Crean said. “I would say we’re not there yet. I would say we know what the identities have got to be.”

Florida is coming off a 61-55 win at Vanderbilt last Saturday that snapped a season-long three-game losing streak.

The Gators feature four players averaging double-figure scoring, including 6-foot-10 forward Kerry Blackshear Jr. (14 points, 8.3 rebounds).

UGA will need a strong performance from its 6-9 forward Rayshaun Hammonds, who averages 12.5 points and a team-high 7.6 rebounds per game.

Florida was No. 6 in the preseason Top 25 and looks to make what would be its fourth straight NCAA tournament appearance.

Georgia has won three of the last four games it has played with the Gators entering the Wednesday night matchup, including the past two in Gainesville.

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