Final: Georgia loses to Florida 71-62
A few postgame comments from outside the Bulldog locker room:
Mark Fox: “We’re not the most mature group when it comes to handling success, I'll say that. I think our leadership in those positions has got to improve. But that’s part of the process.”
Trey Thompkins on the second half: “They just seemed to start playing harder. It seemed like they were challenged, and they felt like they had to come out and play hard at home. And they did so.”
Travis Leslie on what's happening to Georgia in the second half: “I think we get a little comfortable because we’ve got the lead. Let teams back in it. Things go downhill from there.”
3:38 left, Georgia trails 63-57
The Bulldogs still have life, with Trey Thompkins headed to the line after the break. It was a 10-point deficit a few minutes ago, leading Mark Fox to burn his final timeout.
I need to start working on my deadline game story, which at the moment looks like it will be about Georgia once again coming up short in the second half.
7:31 left, Georgia trails 52-49
As I just tweeted - with tweeting and blogging and writing newspaper stories, you'll excuse me for repeating myself - Georgia can only hope that it has taken Florida's big run and is ready to make its own.
But it doesn't quite feel like that.
Florida is getting open looks and offensive rebounds, two things the Georgia defense was preventing in the first half. On the other end, the crowd seems to be getting to the Bulldogs, who are doing some silly things. Sherrard Brantley had no idea the shot clock was running down, and it expired without him even looking up. Jeremy Price started what looked like a one-handed throwdown, the kind only Travis Leslie should be attempting, and Chandler Parsons easily blocked it.
Still, it's only a three-point game and Leslie is heading to the line. So Georgia's far from out of this. The tone and momentum, however, are fully on the other side.
11:34 left, Georgia trails 47-44
The Bulldogs are in danger of unraveling here, and Mark Fox senses that. The Georgia head coach just used his third timeout of the half, meaning he'll only have one left with tons of time left.
It didn't help on the defensive end, as Chandler Parsons promptly sunk a 3. But Trey Thompkins answered with a hustling play that could result in a three-point play. (He has a free throw after the media timeout.)
Parsons has been the story of the half, but Georgia's offense has also been discombobulated. Fox's most recent timeout was precipitated by Jeremy Price barreling into the lane and throwing up a wild shot. Price was trying to draw a foul, but the officials weren't buying it, and Fox appeared to blame his player more than the official.
15:03 left in second half, Georgia leads 40-37
The Bulldog bench is a few feet in front of me, just like it was in Knoxville. And, in my effort to read too much into body language, I don't see much panic after yet another blown lead. Much like Knoxville, maybe that's because the lead was erased early, rather than a slow death march as in previous games.
We'll see if that matters. At the moment the bottom line is it's anybody's game.
For Georgia to take back control, it will need to get a handle on Chandler Parsons, who had seven points during the run that tied the game. The Bulldogs are doing a good job of keeping Florida C Vernon Macklin out of the game, but the Gators are starting to get open looks beyond the arc, which they weren't in the first half.
Halftime: Georgia leads 33-26
Georgia pretty much dominated the first half, shooting the heck out of the ball (15-for-25) and out-rebounding Florida 15-10. (It seemed like more. When even little Sherrard Brantley sneaks in for a defensive rebound, you know Georgia is having a big half.)
Florida did get a morale booster in the final seconds with an Alex Tyus stick-back. (Sorry, I originally wrote Parsons.) It was one of the only times the Bulldogs didn't box out well.
That said ... Georgia led by as many as 11 in the first half. It led by as many as 14 at Tennessee. The Bulldogs now lead by seven at the break. They led by eight in Knoxville.
Tennessee came back to briefly take the lead, then Georgia won anyway. What does the rest of this one hold?
3:24 left in first half, Georgia leads 30-20
Travis Leslie will be at the line trying to complete a three-point play after this media timeout. He has eight points, and things continue to go well for Georgia.
The Bulldogs' shooting - they were 9-for-10 in one key span - has been a big part of it. But its perimeter defense has been outstanding, preventing the Gators from taking control with 3-pointers, as they have in a lot of their wins this year.
Mark Fox has used his bench in a different manner tonight: Sporadic minutes for Vincent Williams and Donte' Williams. The latter Williams just had a good offensive rebound that led to Leslie's basket, and the former Williams saw some rare action at point guard.
Sherrard Brantley is also back in the game. Fox took him out right after his five-point spurt, perhaps sensing that Brantley was on the verge of getting greedy? I don't know.
9:26 left in first half, Georgia leads 21-12
Georgia has now extended its lead after five quick points by Sherrard Brantley. I don't know if it will last, but once again it looks a lot like the first half of the Tennessee game: The home team missing a lot of shots, Georgia defending and rebounding well, and having good focus on the offensive end.
I can't say enough about Georgia's boxing out the past two games. Trey Thompkins, Chris Barnes and Jeremy Price are not getting beat for rebounds the way they had been earlier in the SEC season.
12:50 left in first half, Georgia leads 12-10
Early on, Georgia has come in with the same type of energy and focus that it had at Tennessee. And just like up in Knoxville the scoring is spread around so far: Thompkins and Leslie with four each, Robinson and Price with two each.
Georgia went inside on its first three possessions, scoring on two of them. Then Leslie nailed a long jumper. The first 3-point attempt, by Gerald Robinson, was an air-ball, which obviously won’t encourage a change in strategy.
Georgia’s rebounding has also been stellar so far, including several put-backs that set up the fourth basket.
6:30 p.m.: Pregame thoughts
Gainesville, Fla. - Hello from the land of palm trees. It's a warm and sunny day down here, which made for a nice six-hour drive down from Athens.
Traffic was bad getting to the arena, but I arrived in time to see Florida's Chandler Parsons warming up. The senior forward, who missed Florida's previous game with a deep thigh bruise, looks set to play, and didn't appear in any obvious pain. Billy Donovan has said Parsons won't start, so look for Parsons to enter the game to a rousing, uplifting ovation a few minutes into the game.
Florida can clinch the SEC East with a win tonight, which is amazing considering how bunched-up the division has been. Georgia can mathematically still finish anywhere from first to sixth.
The good news for Georgia is that the win at Tennessee mitigates the "must-win" nature of this one. An upset of the 13th-ranked Gators could very well stamp the Bulldogs' at-large status for the NCAA tournament, while a loss wouldn't hurt much.
But Georgia needs to be careful: Its next game is a two-day turnaround, so while it will be favored to beat South Carolina at home, it's no sure thing. Over the next 48 hours, the Bulldogs need to go at least 1-1, or things will be really dicey.
Thursday, February 24, 2011
Final: Georgia loses to Florida 71-62