Third Road Win Impressive

Wednesday night's game here in Athens wasn't an absolute "must" win for the Florida Gators, but it was certainly a game that could do great harm to the Gators' NCAA Tournament hopes. Georgia is a tough, scrappy team that played Tennessee, Kentucky and Vandy all very close in Stegeman Coliseum. They also had the motivation to try and spoil things for their most despised rival.

They never really had a chance. The Gators shot out to an early lead on three long range jumpers by Nick Calathes and never looked back in a 77-64 win that edged the Gators closer to the field of 65 for the big dance.

After getting out rebounded by nine in the first meeting with the Bulldogs, Florida turned the table with a plus-three effort on the glass. The Gators shot the ball extremely well, making 9-of-19 three-point shots and shooting 53 percent from the field on the night.

But to me, the best part of this game was defense. Florida held Georgia to 12 points in the first 12 minutes of the second half as they took control of the contest and quieted a rather passive Georgia crowd. They allowed Georgia to make just 2-of-14 from long range after getting lit up by South Carolina just five days ago. Florida's guard trio of Calathes, Jai Lucas and Walter Hodge took turns frustrating Georgia senior Sundiata Gaines who torched Florida for 32 in Gainesville. This time, despite him scoring five meaningless points in the final two minutes, Gaines ended up with more turnovers (5) and fouls (4) than made baskets (3). With Gaines throttled and reinstated guard Billy Humphrey looking like he was still suspended (0-for-5) Florida was in command from the time Georgia's pre-game singer finished "take-two" of the national anthem.

Plenty to Like on This Evening

It was a good night for the Gators for several reasons. First, Florida picked up its 21st win of the season and third SEC road triumph. Second, the Gators assured themselves of no worse than a .500 season in the conference with its eighth SEC win against just five losses. Third, Florida improved its SEC credentials while Ole Miss and Arkansas were both damaging theirs.

We'll examine the details of the updates SEC situation as it relates to the NCAA later Thursday. But for now, whether you think the Gators need 22 or 23 wins to make it into the tournament they took an important step closer to that number with a school record tenth straight win over Georgia.

And that's a good night.

Questions or comments? Contact FightinGators.com's Larry Vettel


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