Florida Defense Responds in Victory

The Gators received head coach Billy Donovan's message. The Florida head coach ripped the team for their defensive effort in Saturday's loss at Tennessee, and the Gators responded by holding Georgia to 48 points, the fewest Florida has allowed all season. The Gators were active on defense from the opening tipoff and held Georgia to 36.4% from the field.

"The effort was really there and good on the floor for most of the game," Donovan said after Florida recorded a 70-48 win one Georgia. "I was much more pleased with our effort on that end of the floor and our level of awareness. We were sharp, focused. When you hold a team to 48 points, you've done a pretty good job offensively."

The 48 points No. 19 Florida allowed was its lowest mark of the season, coming after the biggest two-day lecture the team received from the head coach. It was the fewest points a Florida team has given up since the Gators held Arkansas to 43 points on January 22, 2011.

Georgia scored under 48 points just once all season, when California held the Bulldogs to 46 points on November 21, 2011.

Donovan gave his team an earful about their effort immediately following the Tennessee game, and it didn't slow down in the days between. He made the team practice twice on Sunday because of their lack of effort against the Volunteers, and freshman Brad Beal called those the team's two most intense practice of the year.

When the Gators needed to respond to their head coach, they produced their best defensive effort of the year.

"We embrace all of Coach D's challenges," said Florida guard Mike Rosario, who chipped in with seven points and two steals off the bench. "Every challenge he brings to the table, we embrace it because it's a step to get better in life and more mature as a man. You've got to take on challenges and be responsible for your actions. That says a lot about you as a man.

"We played with a lot of energy tonight and passion. We focused on things we needed to do to win the game. We stuck together and stuck to the game plan."

The focus for the Florida defense was to keep Georgia out of the paint. The Bulldogs' offense goes as their guards lead them, and allowing them to penetrate near the basket would only complicate things for the Gators. Georgia has youth and inexperience in its frontcourt, so the Gators didn't mind playing man-to-man defense.

Nemanja Djurisic led Georgia with 14 points, but most of his came from the perimeter. Besides him, the Bulldogs' frontcourt players combined for just nine points. Djurisic was the only Georgia player in double figures.

"We played a lot harder (than recent games)," Beal said. "Against UAB and Tennessee, we gave up too many points in transition. We were too lackadaisical on defense, and tonight I believe we were a lot better on defense." (Donovan) said we played with a lot of energy and passion tonight. We played harder than we did against Tennessee and all these other games. I believe he was pleased with it.

However, one Florida player still wasn't happy with the team's effort. Center Patric Young thought it actually could have been better. The Gators were planning to watch Georgia guards Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Gerald Robinson closely as they came off screens and tried to get to the basket. The Gators totaled six blocks, including one where Young set Robinson's layup over court side seats.

Caldwell-Pope and Robinson came into the game averaging 28.2 points per game. The Gators held them to 16 points on Tuesday, but Young still wasn't happy.

"Honestly, we could've played even better tonight," Young said. "We had a lot of breakdowns and they got a lot of offensive rebounds. I feel like we should've held them under 30. If you take out the offensive rebounds, open threes and second-chance points, it's a completely different game."


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