And Georgia basketball got bounced at Florida after leading by 22 in the second half on Wednesday night, falling 81-75 in Gainesville.
The Bulldogs (12-10, 2-7 SEC) appeared to be in good position for the road upset over the Gators (14-8, 6-3) when Sahvir Wheeler scored on a layup with 16:43 left to make it 52-30.
But for the second time in the past three games, Georgia lost after leading by 20 or more points in the second half.
Florida showed why it was favored by 9 1/2 points in this game and ranked No. 6 in the preseason, rising to the occasion at the O’Connell Center in the ESPNU television matchup.
A 39-7 run fueled the biggest home comeback in Florida basketball history.
Georgia’s Anthony Edwards scored 32 points on 10-of-17 shooting (6-of-9 from three) with a team-high 6 rebounds in 39 minutes.
“Anthony Edwards is playing at a different speed than anyone in the building,” ESPNU commentator and former Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy said at one point in the action.
But the freshman couldn’t do it all.
An Edwards’ 3-pointer with 14:41 left gave the Bulldogs a 55-38 lead before the Gators went on a 9-0 spurt to cut the lead to single digits and trigger a Tom Crean timeout.
The break in the action wasn’t enough to cool off Florida’s shooting, and neither was Georgia’s defense.
“We didn’t guard the dribble, our talk went away,” Crean said on the Georgia Bulldogs Sports Network postgame show. “We gave them comfort shooting the ball and driving the ball.
“And we switch to zone, and we’re not within five or six feet on the shot. It comes down to a lack of communication.”
The Gators made 7 of 11 shots beyond the arc in the final 20 minutes after going just 2 of 12 in the first half.
An Andrew Nembhard 3-pointer gave Florida its first lead since the opening minutes at 59-57 with 8:38 remaining.
The Gators’ second-half run continued, reaching 39-7 when Nembhard (25 points) drained a jumper to make it 69-59 with 5:56 left.
Georgia fought back late, cutting the lead to 73-71 on a Donnell Gresham Jr. 3-pointer with 2:55 left.
But the Bulldogs couldn’t get any closer, leaving the floor shell-shocked, another quiet airplane ride back to Athens ahead of them.
Georgia had led 41-26 at intermission, closing the first half on a 10-0 run.
It appeared the Bulldogs were ready to build off the momentum generated from their 63-48 home win over Texas A&M last Saturday.
Edwards had 18 points and five rebounds at the break, looking more dominant than ever. Nine of Edwards’ points came via a trio of 3-pointers in the opening minutes when UGA went on a 13-0 run to take control of the game with a 17-10 lead.
Florida coach Mike White called a timeout at the 11:49 mark, stunned by the Bulldogs scoring 13 points in less than 2 1/2 minutes.
Georgia shot 55 percent from the floor in the opening half, Edwards making 7 of his first 9 shots.
More importantly, the Bulldogs were getting to the rim. They outscored the Gators 22-18 in the paint and getting to the free-throw line six times to Florida’s two attempts.
But by the end of the night, the numbers had turned in the Gators’ favor, as they won the points in the paint (34-32) and rebounding (36-30) battles.
Wheeler was the only other Georgia player to score in double figures with 16 points on 6-of-8 shooting to go with his team-high 4 assists.
Junior Rayshaun Hammonds continued to struggle, the 6-foot-9, 245-pounder fancying himself more of a 3-pointer shooter than power forward in the lane.
Hammonds had 9 points and 5 rebounds, just 4-of-11 shooting including 1-of-6 shooting beyond the 3-point arc.
Georgia returns to action at 6 p.m. on Saturday against Alabama (12-10, 4-5) at Stegeman Coliseum. The Crimson Tide has lost three straight entering the game.
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