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Florida vs Georgia

No. 8 Gators shake sluggish start, romp Bulldogs

CBSSports.com wire reports
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ATHENS, Ga. -- Scottie Wilbekin helped No. 8 Florida get through a sluggish first half.

His teammates took it from there.

Wilbekin matched a career high with 17 points -- scoring 13 before halftime -- and the Gators romped past another Southeastern Conference opponent, beating Georgia 64-47 on Wednesday night.

Florida (15-2, 5-0 SEC) trailed 27-24 at the break, making just 1 of 9 attempts beyond the 3-point arc. But the Gators quickly turned things around after the break. Wilbekin and Mike Rosario hit consecutive 3s and forced Georgia into three straight turnovers.

The Gators led the rest of way, holding Georgia (7-11, 1-4) to only one field goal in the first 11½ minutes of the second half.

"My shots were falling," Wilbekin said. "They were opening up the lane. I was able to drive in the first half. They made it easy for me."

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Everyone else was struggling, but the Gators looked more familiar in the second half. Florida knocked down 7 of 11 from outside the stripe and turned up the defensive pressure, limiting Georgia to 32 percent shooting (6 of 19) from the field. The Bulldogs finished with 17 turnovers, compared to just seven for Florida.

"We knew it was going to be a grind-it-out, physical game," Gators coach Billy Donovan said. "They were not going to get in a running game with us. They were going to run some clock. They forced us to dig a little deeper."

Despite never leading in the first half, Florida added to its run of dominance in conference play. The Gators have won their first five SEC games by an average of nearly 25 points.

Wilbekin, who was averaging 8.3 points a game, equaled his career best from a November victory over Central Florida. Kenny Boynton added 14 points, while Erik Murphy had 13.

"Scottie and the Georgia turnovers kept us close," Donovan said. "We could've been down 10 or 12. To only be down by three at the half, we were fortunate."

Florida already had beaten Georgia 77-44 two weeks ago in Gainesville, but the Bulldogs were more competitive in this one, at least for a half. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope led the home team with 16 points.

No other Georgia player was in double figures.

"A tale of two halves," Bulldogs coach Mark Fox said. "We didn't start the second half well at all. We just couldn't stabilize our defense in the second half. We just couldn't find a way to get stops in the second half, and they shot the ball very well."

Before a half-filled Stegeman Coliseum, the Bulldogs went right at the Gators from the opening tip, scoring the first six points and quickly building an 11-2 lead. Florida tied it a couple of times but, surprisingly, never had the lead before the break.

Georgia stayed on top with accurate shooting from beyond the arc, knocking down 6 of 11 by halftime. The Gators, by comparison, made just 1 of 9.

Caldwell-Pope finished off the half by swishing a long 3-pointer just before the buzzer, sending the Bulldogs racing off the court with the lead.

It didn't last.

"We were feeling good about the first half," Caldwell-Pope said. "We just wanted to throw the first punch, and we did. To start the second half, we gave up a couple of 3s and the momentum."

Florida has won 17 of the last 20 in the series and made up for a 76-62 loss in Athens late last season.

"We remembered what happened last year," Wilbekin said. "We weren't going to let that happen again."

Georgia was coming off its first SEC win of the season, a 67-58 victory over LSU. But the Bulldogs just didn't have enough talent or depth to knock off the Gators, having already lost non-conference games at home to Youngstown State, Southern Miss and Iona.

"They played harder than us in the first half," Boynton said. "Coach wanted us to come out in the second half and, no matter what we had going offensively, just get back together on defense. We tried to push up on them defensively in the second half to take away their 3-point shots and force them to drive."

It worked. After doing so much damage from 3-point range, the Bulldogs got off only one long-range attempt in the final 20 minutes (and made it, too).

The Bulldogs' offensive woes were summed up by Kenny Gaines, who went up for a dunk with about 5 minutes left but didn't even clear the rim. The crowd groaned, many of them deciding that was a good time to head for home.

By the end, there were only a smattering of fans left, most of them wearing blue.

Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
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Thanks to 17 points from Scottie Wilbekin, Florida -- which trails in the first half -- continues its dominance in league play. (AP)
Thanks to 17 points from Scottie Wilbekin, Florida -- which trails in the first half -- continues its dominance in league play. (AP)
Scoreboard
Florida #8 (15-2) «244064
Georgia (7-11)272047
FLA:S. Wilbekin 17 Pts
FLA:W. Yeguete 11 Reb
FLA:S. Wilbekin 3 Ast
UGA:K. Caldwell-Pope 16 Pts
UGA:K. Caldwell-Pope 7 Reb
UGA:C. Mann 3 Ast

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PLAYERS OF THE GAME
FloridaGeorgia
FLA
Scottie Wilbekin
UGA
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
PtsRebsAstPtsRebsAst
17231672
Florida Gators
K. Boynton, G364-104-512014
S. Wilbekin, G367-91-223317
M. Rosario, G323-130-05227
P. Young, C282-42-55126
E. Murphy, F-C244-82-231413
W. Yeguete, F233-61-211127
M. Frazier II, G160-10-00100
D. Walker, G-F50-00-00010
C. Prather, G-FDid Not Play
J. Kurtz, GDid Not Play
D. Graham, GDid Not Play
B. Ogbueze, GDid Not Play
B. Donovan, GDid Not Play
Totals 23-5110-1627111464
 45.1%62.5% 
Georgia Bulldogs
K. Caldwell-Pope, G355-113-472216
D. Williams, F291-40-04052
C. Mann, G272-43-41319
J. Florveus, F-C261-10-01022
B. Morris, F243-42-34128
N. Djurisic, F183-70-02137
S. Brantley, G140-20-02100
V. Williams, G130-10-00200
T. Dixon, F-C90-30-03000
K. Gaines, G51-20-10003
M. Thornton, FDid Not Play
J. Cannon, CDid Not Play
H. Kessler, FDid Not Play
T. Echols, GDid Not Play
Totals 16-398-1224101547
 41.0%66.7% 
Southeastern
TeamConf. W-LTot. W-LRPI Rank
Kentucky0-06-029
Arkansas0-04-040
Miss. State0-04-046
Vanderbilt0-04-0211
Alabama0-04-131
Georgia0-03-1122
Ole Miss0-03-1281
Texas A&M0-03-1223
Florida0-02-111
LSU0-03-24
Auburn0-02-2229
Tennessee0-01-1282
Missouri0-02-3176
S. Carolina0-02-393
 
Other games
PSU 49 Final
IND 72
BUT 53 Final
LAS 54
DUKE 63 Final
UM 90
CSU 61 Final
NMEX 66
CREI 69 Final
DRKE 74
WICH 62 Final
MOST 52
MINN 48 Final
NW 55
WSU 61 Final
ORE 68