Perhaps Scottie Wilbekin got tired of hearing how great he was only on defense.
Whatever his motivation, it clearly worked as the junior guard slashed and shot his way to 17 points on Wednesday, in leading the Gators to a 64-47 victory over Georgia.
It would have been understandable if the audience mistook the first half as a repeat of the Florida-Georgia football game played a few months ago, as the first 20 minutes offered very little in terms of consistent or exciting offense for either team.
Wilbekin was the lone bright spot for Florida’s offense in the first half, as the Gainesville-native poured in 13 points on 6-of-7 shooting, at one point scoring eight straight points for the Gators. UF did just enough to keep the game close in the first, but trailed for most of the game’s opening stanza, including going into the halftime break, as Georgia’s leading scorer Kentavious Caldwell-Pope buried a bomb of a three-pointer at the buzzer to put the Bulldogs up 27-24.
However, despite any feelings of doubt which may have began to creep into Gators fans’ heads, Florida again proved that once they hit the gas, they can lap just about anyone in the SEC.
Both Wilbekin and Mike Rosario would nail back-to-back threes to open up the second half for UF, and to the chagrin of the pro-Georgia contingent at Stegeman Coliseum, Florida’s first lead of the night would hold for the duration of the game.
For the second straight outing against UGA, Florida would only allow one Bulldogs player — guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope — to score in double figures, as the sophomore would lead the charge with 16 points of his own.
Georgia appeared to be the more interested team shortly after tip-off, but it was simply unable to maintain it’s energy and consistency in the second half as UF’s defense again overwhelmed an offensively challenged team, forcing the Bulldogs into 16 turnovers on the night.
Kenny Boynton would chip in 14 points, while Erik Murphy would recover from a scoreless first half to finish with 13.
Color Commentator Barry Booker perhaps put it best on Wednesday when he stated that Florida’s defense continues to keep the team in games until the offense is able to catch up. Florida’s shooting was wildly inconsistent against Georgia, as the Gators finished 44.2% from the field including an 8-for-20 effort from behind the arc.
Despite their troubles though, the Gators continue to prove their mettle in the SEC, defeating their fifth straight conference opponent by double digits.
Florida next travels to Starkville, Miss. to take on the Mississippi State Bulldogs (7-9) at 8 p.m. EST on Saturday.
The game will be broadcast live on ESPN2.