GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Five things we learned from Georgia’s 77-63 loss at Florida on Saturday night.
DOWNED AGAIN IN GAINESVILLE
The O’Connell Center remains a place where Georgia does not win. It has lost here 13 straight times, its last victory coming in 2002.
This was the first visit in the post-Billy Donovan era, but Georgia couldn’t have been happy to see his replacement. Two years ago Mike White brought his Louisiana Tech team into Stegeman Coliseum for an NIT game and raced out to a 26-point first-half lead, and won by eight.
The Bulldogs watched tape of that NIT game this week in preparation for Florida (now 9-4 overall and 1-0 in the SEC), and the similarities in style between that White team and this one were obvious: Playing hard defense and working the ball around for open 3s on the other end. Georgia had trouble with both teams.
This game was closer, though the Bulldogs held just one lead: 2-0. After that the game appeared in danger of being a runaway, the Gators leading by as many as 16 late in the second half.
Georgia (7-4, 0-1) staged a rally, climbing within four in the second half. But a lack of 3-pointers, and a disparity in fouls were too much.
“We had a chance for a long time to come back,” Georgia sophomore forward Yante Maten said.
“It’s just tough. We just couldn’t get over the hump,” senior guard Kenny Gaines said. “We just couldn’t get that one more stop and basket.”
Georgia coach Mark Fox was given a technical during the second half after a series of calls (and non-calls) he didn’t like. That didn’t stop Fox’s complaints; at one point in the second half Georgia had been called for nine fouls and Florida just two.
“I was obviously frustrated, and that’s all I’ll say about that,” Fox said after the game.
But Florida athletics director Jeremy Foley wasn’t quite happy either. In the first half he approached the SEC supervisor sitting behind press row to complain about a call.
“At times it seemed a little difficult, we couldn’t get a good whistle. But they were at home, it’s just something you’ve gotta expect,” said Georgia’s Kenny Gaines, who was sporting a cut lip, the result of an elbow. “But I mean we didn’t do everything that correlated to winning today, so that’s really why we beat.”
3s FOR FLORIDA, NOT FOR GEORGIA
Both teams depend heavily on their ability to hit 3s, but the problem for Georgia was deeper: It couldn’t even get any shots off.
Florida’s half-court defense was stupendous, hugging the perimeter, clogging the passing lanes and switching well. The Bulldogs took most of their 3s when they had no other choice, and missed them.
J.J. Frazier didn’t hit a 3-pointer until late in the game, and only had two attempts from beyond the arc all game.
“He’s got to learn that as well as he’s played he’s going to see a greater focus from the defense,” Fox said. “I thought he was fairly patient and tried to get some other guys involved. But we do need him to score. But he’s got to play within the framework of the system and takes what the defense gives us, and there’s probably some things we didn’t take advantage of that were open because of the defense J.J. saw.”
At halftime, Georgia was 0-for-4 from beyond the arc, and Florida was 6-for-13. That made up all but one point of the seven-point difference.
Georgia didn’t get its first 3-pointer until Gaines drilled one with 14:32 left in the game. The next one didn’t come until too late, finishing the game 2-for-11 beyond the arc. Florida was 9-for-22.
MATEN SHINES AGAIN
As Georgia’s perimeter players struggled for open looks, Maten (20 points) made up for it. The sophomore hit a number of shots close to the baskets, then early in the second half hit the team’s longest shot to that point, a 19-footer that made it a four-point game. That was the closest it would get.
Georgia’s problem was not getting Maten help in scoring or rebounding. Gaines (13 points) and guard J.J. Frazier (12) were the only other player in double figures, and Gaines fouled out early and Frazier didn’t score much until late. And while Frazier had seven rebounds off his hustle, the Bulldogs were dominated on the boards in the second half, stifling any comeback chances.
“They were getting second opportunities, and that hurt us a lot,” Maten said. “But also we weren’t getting our transition defense set up before they could get there. So they pretty much boat-raced us and beat us down the court.”
Freshman post Derek Ogbeide continues to increase his minutes and comfort level. And while he came off the bench to start the second, he started the second half, a possible sign of things to come.
Seeing his most extended action ((18 minutes) of the season, Ogbeide had a season-high eight points off 4-for-7 shooting (also his most shots) and three rebounds. The big-bodied Ogbeide was more assertive under the basket, and made a couple baskets off set shots in the post.
Fox said Ogbeide starting the second half was to match Florida’s big bodies in the paint.
“It actually gave us a decent start there in the second half,” Fox said. “We’ve gotta solidify a rotation there (in the post). But Derek has so much that he missed that he has to experience. It will likely be several weeks until he’s comfortable doing a lot of the other things that the other guys do.”
Ogbeide hurt his shoulder in the preseason and missed the first five games. Since then his minutes have steadily increased: 2, 3, 11, 11, 13.