Gators Win a Thriller in Athens

Florida looked like it had the game clinched in regulation. Georgia looked like it had put the game away in the first overtime. But it was the Gators that used their second life in double overtime to outscore Georgia 19-6 in the final five minutes. Florida stayed undefeated on the road this season in a game that featured 14 lead changes, ending with a 104-91 win over the Bulldogs.

"It was an unbelievable win," Florida head coach Billy Donovan said on his post game radio show. "Coming back to the bench going to the first overtime, I could tell we were teetering emotionally because it's hard. You could tell the momentum shifted to us going into the second overtime, and they were teetering.

"We got off to such a good start in the first two minutes of the second overtime that they were forced to play catch up. I'm really proud of our guys."

Florida's 104 points tied the most ever scored under a team coached by Billy Donovan, last happening in a 2002 overtime win at Tennessee. The 104 against Georgia came two games after Florida scored 45 points at Auburn, which was the fewest ever scored by a Billy Donovan coached team.

The Gators have now won five of their last six overtime games on the road.

Florida looked like frustrated late in the first overtime, and it's hard to blame the players. Georgia took a three-point lead with seven seconds left in that period after Jeremy Price hit two free throws. Chandler Parsons inbounded to Erving Walker, who weaved in and out of traffic.

Georgia head coach Mark Fox was calling for his players to foul Walker, but they didn't. The junior pulled up and hit a long range three-pointer from around 15 feet inside the half court line to send the game to the second overtime.

It came after Walker missed the front end of a one-and-one situation from the free throw line in regulation. If he hit both, the Gators would have likely cruised to a victory. Instead, Walker felt like he had to make it up to his team.

"I was frustrated with myself for missing those free throws because I put my team at risk," Walker said. "I wanted to make up for it, so I hit that three."

Georgia looked deflated in the second overtime, almost as if they were still disappointed that Walker's shot went in.

Florida opened the second overtime on a 9-0 run, including a three-pointer from Chandler Parsons that pushed the lead to 92-85 and seemed to be the dagger with 3:09 still remaining. Parsons scored nine points in the second overtime.

"Chandler was awesome in the second half," Donovan said. "They had a hard time guard us in the zone with our high pick and roll."

After being down two points at halftime, the Gators looked like they were going to cruise to a victory near the midway point of the second half. Florida opened the second half on a 14-6 run to take a 53-47 lead after back-to-back three-pointers from Erik Murphy and Parsons.

Murphy played only four minutes but had seven points and three rebounds. It was his third game back from foot injury and the first time he played like himself.

A clutch three-pointer by Georgia point guard Gerald Robinson cut the Florida lead to one point with 23 seconds left. After missing the front end of the one-and-one 15 seconds earlier, Walker could only convert one of two free throws to push the Florida lead to 73-71.

Georgia guard Dustin Ware drove to the basket and missed a layup with two seconds left. Patric Young and Alex Tyus both went for the blocked shot, leaving Georgia forward Trey Thompkins open for an easy layup to tie it as time expired and send the game to overtime.

Each team pulled down 47 rebounds, but the Gators were a different team on the glass after the first half. Georgia won the rebounding battle 23-11 in the first half, including a 9-2 advantage on the offensive glass.

Florida ended the game with 20 second-chance points.

Georgia also ended the game with 20 turnovers, including ten in the first half, and the Gators converted 25 points off turnovers.

Another key difference after the first half was three-point shooting. Georgia was 4-for-5 from behind the line in the first half, and 3-for-12 after that. The Gators went 1-for-6 in the first half for three and 7-for-14 through the rest of the game.

Macklin had a career-high 23 points, while Boynton and Walker each had 24. Parsons had 18 points and 12 rebounds, after having only one board in the first half.

The Gators return to action at 1 p.m. Saturday at Mississippi State.


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