Georgia desperately needed to beat the Florida Gators to earn an NCAA bid. After five minutes of action Friday night the Bulldawgs were busy lobbying the NIT for an invite. Florida’s 17-0 run to start the game put the Gators in the driver’s seat.
After two Georgia hoops the Gators ran off another eleven-zip streak to make it 28-to-4 and the only question was just who would be next for the defending NCAA and SEC Tournament Champions.
Florida dominated this game more thoroughly and completely than just about any contest this season. It was impressive considering the Gators were playing in the home state of a team playing for its NCAA life. But there was no life to be found in the Bull puppies on this evening. Georgia put up little resistance, missed repeated inside shots and never had a chance in this one.
Number One Seed in Sight
One of the driving forces for this team has been the desire to earn the school’s first number one seed for the big dance. Well the domination of Georgia may not be enough to get the job done, but it appears the four number one seeds are going to be decided from among UCLA, Ohio State, Florida, Wisconsin and Kansas. As far as I’m concerned, Kansas and Ohio State are locks with UCLA next. The Gators and Badgers are likely to be seeded #1 and # 2 in the East Regional and the exact order really doesn’t make a hill of beans difference.
Florida has, however delivered a heckuva a message to the college hoops world. With their second half against Kentucky (42-29) and their first half against Georgia (35-14) Florida showed the dominant type of team they can be. I promise you they are the one team all the others want to see — in someone else’s bracket!
Press is the Key
What has gotten the Gators back to playing their game has been Coach Billy Donovan’s return to pressure defense. Florida has not created a lot of turnovers with the press, nor have they been super disruptive, but that’s not the point. When this team presses it puts the spark into Joakim Noah and Corey Brewer. And when those two have a spring in their step, this team is electric. Florida plays with more passion and more purpose and while the turnovers did help Friday night it wasn’t the biggest payoff. The real reward is making people try to play Florida’s pace.
And guess what?
Nobody can beat the Gators at their pace.