ATHENS – At least with most of the previous losses Georgia could point to being in it till the end, going to overtime or taking a ranked team to the brink.
This time it couldn’t. Instead, it just got worse.
First, Georgia fell behind by 16 in the first half, then immediately rallied to tie it. But then No. 17 Florida pulled away again in the second half, and it stayed that way, the Gators winning 72-58 on Tuesday night at Stegeman Coliseum.
It was Georgia’s fifth straight SEC loss, dropping it to 4-7 in conference play. The only win in the past three weeks was the non-conference home win over Texas. Last month when Georgia went down to Florida, it was 11-5 and harbored legitimate NCAA hopes. Now it’s 13-11, its worst record at this point in the season in four years.
– Player of the game: Georgia’s Yante Maten scored a game-high 19 points despite missing the final few minutes of the first half with a cut lip. He got stitches at halftime. But Maten also appeared to press a bit, trying too hard to lift Georgia back. Once again, he didn’t get enough help.
– Stat line of the game: 18.5 percent, Georgia’s shooting percentage over the first 17 minutes of the second half. That was how it went from trailing by two to way behind in the final minutes.
– Turning point: Early in the second half Georgia struggled to get anything going on offense, and then committed a series of bad passes – including one by Maten – that helped Florida score seven straight points and re-take a double-digit lead. The closets Georgia would get after that was five points.
– What’s next: Georgia goes back on the road, this time to Tennessee, an improved team that will be difficult to beat at home.