Dawgs fall at Florida

GAINESVILLE, FL – Georgia lost its fourth straight basketball game here Saturday afternoon, and the Bulldog offense can now officially be listed as missing, too.

Georgia scored its season-low in a 67-51 loss to No. 3 Florida in front of 11,344 in the O'Connell Center. It was the Bulldogs third straight game against a ranked team and second straight against a team in the Top 5, and they fell to 8-5 overall and 0-1 in the SEC.

"We've just gone through what could probably be the most challenging stretch of games in the history of the program," Coach Dennis Felton said. "I thought we played our tails off. It's just that we're playing against the best team in the country on their floor."

The Gators (14-2, 1-0 SEC) were just one point off their season-low but won going away thanks to a 20-9 run to the end the game.

Unlike Florida, the Bulldogs' anemia on offense is becoming a trend. Georgia's final tally has decreased steadily in each of the last six games. Two weeks ago, Georgia led the SEC in scoring with 91.7 points per game, but they've averaged 58.5 in this losing streak.

No one is struggling more than sophomore guard Mike Mercer, who is the team's leading scorer but has hit just 25 percent of his shots (14-of-55) in the last four games.

He was 3-for-14, including 0-for-3 from behind the 3-point line, and finished with six points against the Gators.

"Teams are turning up the defensive pressure on me," he said. "Everybody has a scouting report and looks at the scoring lines."

No Bulldog scored more than 10, and they shot 38.6 percent as a group against a swarming Gator defense. Georgia only shot five free throws and didn't hit any of them.

"That's not a lack of aggression," said forward Takais Brown. "I'm not going to say what it really was, but if you were in the stands, you saw it."

Felton attributed the lack of fouls to the Gators' athleticism.

"They're just taller and longer and more athletic than us," he said. "Sometimes it can be hard to see the rim in there against them."

Entering the game, Felton stressed rebounding and turnovers to his team. Georgia won the rebounding battle 39-34 but gave it all back and more with 22 turnovers to the Gators' 12, thus becoming the first team this season to outrebound Florida and lose.

The Bulldogs have averaged 21 turnovers in their losing streak.

"Our biggest problem is turnovers," Brown said. "We just need to learn to take better care of the ball."

Uncharacteristically, the Bulldogs held Florida forward Joakim Noah in check. Noah scored 13 mostly quiet points but did hit his first career 3-pointer for the final points of the game.

The defending national champions were led in scoring by cat-quick guard Corey Brewer, who had 19 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists and four steals.

Brewer also made the defensive play of the game, recovering from a steal by Levi Stukes to block Stukes' layup attempt on the other end. A Stukes' conversion would have cut Florida's lead to three at 47-44. Instead, Florida scored two quick baskets to go up by nine.

The Bulldogs led 26-25 at halftime despite a 7:08 stretch in which their only points came on Billy Humphrey's first 3-pointer in the last six games. Florida erased that lead with 15:54 left in the game and never trailed again. Humphrey, Brown and Florida native Steve Newman all had 10 for Georgia.

Georgia, which has now last five straight to the Gators, will try to regroup Wednesday at home against South Carolina at 7:30 p.m.


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