Gators Hold On to Beat Georgia 70 to 63; End Two-Game Skid

Despite a late struggle, the Florida Gators found alternative ways to hold onto 14-point halftime lead to return to the win column against the state-line rival Georgia Bulldogs.
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Photo: Anthony Duruji; Credit: University of Florida athletic association

Colin Castleton faces pressure near the half-court line from the Georgia defense. Looking for options to break the trap, Castleton drops the ball off to Tyree Appleby, who dishes it back to Castleton on the right-wing.

Driving into the lane, Castleton looks inside to Anthony Duruji who takes off from the left block, snags the ball in mid-flight and delivers a rim rocking slam to put the Gators up 12 points with 6:29 to go in the game. Putting what would soon be the exclamation point of the UF victory.

In the Florida Gators' bout with Georgia on Saturday, Florida came out of the gates in the first half hot while Georgia struggles to score the basketball, shooting 2 for 16 from the field from 15:50 to 4:02 left to play in the half.

Shooting 44.9% from the field and 26.1% from downtown, Florida was once again inconsistent on the offensive end but used other methods to come away victorious 70 to 63.

Namely, free-throw shooting and rebounding.

Going 20 for 25 from the line on the night, Florida once again provided a bright spot at the charity stripe to account for their recent woes from the floor.

During the four-game winning streak — which feels like ages ago — the Gators were rolling on the offensive end, averaging 82.5 points per game over the stretch.

However, since then, Florida has failed to eclipse 70 points in two out of the three games and barely managed to reach that mark against a Bulldogs team ranked 302nd in points allowed per game on the year.

What Florida has done well for the most part in regards to shooting the basketball is execute from the line when given the opportunity.

Shooting a combined 43 for 54 over the last three games, the points from the line have made up over 21% of the accumulated 201 points scored against South Carolina, Arkansas and Georgia.

Struggling to score in the second half after a hot start allowed them to go up 30 to 12 with 5:37 remaining in the first half; Florida allowed Georgia to creep back in and make it a five-point game with 27 seconds remaining in the contest.

Warding off a UGA comeback attempt for the second time this season, UF knocked down four clutch free throws in the last two minutes of the game to put the contest out of reach and seal the deal.

Led by Castleton with 14 on the night, the quartet of guards for the Gators in Appleby, Tre Mann, Noah Locke and Ques Glover played substantial roles in the scoring department, all accounting for nine or more points.

However, where the game was won for Florida comes by way of crashing the boards. Securing 41 rebounds on the night compared to Georgia’s 31, the Gators consistently cleaned the glass to limit second-chance opportunities by Sahvir Wheeler and company.

As a result, the Gators were able to hang on tight to the 14-point halftime lead to sweeping the season series of the Bulldogs.

In a game that overall didn’t provide much promise that the unit will be turned around for the long term, a win over a rival always brings momentum in some form or fashion.

Next, Florida will travel to Auburn (Ala.) on Tuesday to take on a reeling Tigers team, with both teams having an opportunity to earn the 12th win of their respective seasons.