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HOOPS: Gators thump Dawgs, break school-record home winning streak

 

GAINESVILLE -- No. 7 Florida dismantled Georgia in a laugher Tuesday night, dominating a rattled Bulldogs team 72-50 en route to a school-record 25th consecutive victory inside the O'Connell Center. 

Sophomore sniper Michael Frazier scored a career-high 21 points, as Florida (14-2, 3-0 SEC) drilled a season-high 11 3-pointers -- including six-straight during a shooting barrage in the second half. 

"We did a really good job tonight -- to our guys' credit -- not baiting and taking the first three," UF coach Billy Donovan said. "We moved the ball. When it hit the paint, it came back out and we shot it. Those are the threes you want to shoot." 

Frazier, who struggled early (just 1-of-8 from downtown) and was actually pressed by teammates and coaches to shoot more, nailed four treys in three minutes as UF extended its lead to a game-high 31 points with three minutes remaining in the second half. 

"[Donovan] sparked me," Frazier said. "He told us sometimes he has more confidence than we do un ourselves. Once he said that I just kept shooting."  

Georgia (8-7, 2-1 SEC) actually entered the meeting undefeated in conference play and briefly led 2-0 in the game's opening minute, but the Bulldogs never held a lead the rest of the night.  

UGA's recent run of surprising play was quite short-lived, as Florida -- playing without leading scorer Casey Prather (knee bruise) -- jumped out to a 36-16 halftime lead thanks to 17 points off 12 UGA turnovers. 

The Bulldogs scored a season-low 16 first-half points.

Florida -- No. 16 nationally in defensive efficiency -- suffocated Georgia with a blitzing full-court press and a constantly changing two-man trap. 

The Gators exploded for a 26-4 run -- including 11-0 and 10-0 spurts -- to cruise towards its eighth-straight victory.  

UGA, clearly rattled by UF's relentless pressure, self-combusted facing UF's tenacious press coupled with its raucous crowd. 

"We did a really good job with our press," Donovan said. "I was happy with the way we played."

Georgia point guard Charles Mann, the reining SEC Player of the Week, had a disastrous performance, as Scottie Wilbekin & Co. harassed the sophomore guard into five turnovers -- all in the first half. Mann finished the evening with just two assists and eight points. 

"We lost our poise," Georgia forward Marcus Thornton said. "Once you get behind the eight-ball in a place like Florida, they will crush you quickly. The game was decided right there in the first half."  

Per usual, Florida was forced to overcome a short second-half lull, but Georgia never cut the deficit under 14. 

"It's really hard to get guys to try to sustain that intensity for 40 minutes," Donovan said. "We had a spurt there in the second half where we weren't great, but then I thought we exploded late. With about 10 minutes to go in the game we really exploded offensively and got some stops."

Seniors Will Yeguete (12 points, six rebounds) and Patric Young (10 points, nine rebounds) -- on Patric Young Beard Night -- chipped in solid performances, while sophomore forward Dorian Finney-Smith (14 points, five rebounds, three assists) continued his recent consistent play.  

THIS & THAT

Several students wore homemade "FREE CHRIS WALKER" t-shirts, as the freshman forward remains in limbo waiting for the NCAA's ruling on eligibly.

Bd-pPglCcAA0REu(Courtesy @osgators)

Florida's Rowdy Reptiles continuously chanted the slogan throughout the evening. … Former Gators Chris Richard (2003-07) and Erik Murphy (2009-13) were in attendance. … Florida's backcourt -- Wilbekin and freshman Kasey Hill -- combined for 10 assists (five each), four steals and zero turnovers. … The Gators and Bulldogs finished with identical rebounding numbers: 23 total, 11 offensive. 

VIDEO: Donovan talks UF's defensive effort and getting his senior-laden team to buy into his scheme

  

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