The Florida Gators basketball team (9-4/1-0) opened their SEC schedule with a 77-63 win over to SEC East rival Georgia Bulldogs (7-4/0-1).
However, it did not look like things would go their way from the tip. Despite winning tip-off, the Gators quickly turned the ball over that resulted in a fast break for the Dawgs that ended with a layup.
Desperate to pull away from the get go, Florida opted for shots from behind the arc – which has not been their strong suit coming in at 27% for the season before tonight’s game.
By six minutes in to the second half, three different players had completed shots from downtown (forward Justin Leon, guard Chris Chiozza and guard KeVaughn Allen) and the Gators had a little bit of breathing room leading 13-6.
Georgia started to chip into this lead, going on a 4-0 run to get just two points within Florida’s lead. Center John Egbunu helped bring back some momentum with his back-to-back dunks with the first being an and-one at 10:38 left in the first half. This put Florida up with a 7-point lead at 11-18.
The momentum was picked up by forward Devin Robinson, who also had an and-one just thirty seconds after Egbunu’s second dunk. Despite starting to get some more points on the board, the Gators started to struggle defensively giving up 12 turnovers in the first half.
Florida’s defense did not crack for long as they managed to go on a 12-2 run in just 3:21 ending with a free throw from Kasey Hill. The lack of points from the Dawgs was not due to them not taking shots, the Gators just managed to keep them quiet at 1-6 from the field.
Devin Robinson who at this point had put up 13 points and 2 rebounds, going 3-3 from the field, 2-2 from the arc and 5-6 from the line, was injured after taking an elbow to the ribs and went to the locker room. He was walking on his own, but was clearly in a lot of pain. He did not return from the locker room for the remainder of the game.
Forward Dorian Finney-Smith, who typically is the team’s leading scorer, was shockingly quiet during the first half going 0-3 in FG and 0-2 in 3FG. Despite not having their leading scorer making shots, the Gators still managed to end the half leading by seven at 38-31.
In the second half of the game Georgia came back to the court fired up and ready to give the Gators a basketball game. They slowly but surely narrowed in on Florida’s lead, coming as close as four points away after an 8-3 run.
Refusing to let the Dawgs get comfortable in the O-Dome, the Gators chomped back with a 10-5 run that left them with a double-digit lead at 44-34 and 12:13 left to play
By 5:35 the Gators had their largest lead against the Dawgs of 15 points after a three pointer by Chris Chiozza followed by a jumper made by fellow point guard, Kasey Hill.
In the second half of the game, John Egbunu logged his third double-double of the season with 12 points and 12 rebounds. Four other Gators also scored in double-digits against UGA – KeVaughn Allen leading the team with 18, Chris Chiozza with 11, Devin Robinson with 13 (in one half) and Kasey Hill with 10.
The Florida Gators basketball team will now travel to Tennessee to face the Volunteers for their first league road game on Wednesday. Tip off is set for 7pm and can be seen on ESPN2 and as always join GatorCountry.com to follow along for full updates and coverage.