Basketball Preview: Georgia vs. Florida

ATHENS - Josh Kendall takes a look at Georgia's game with Florida.

Georgia (13-8, 5-4 SEC) vs. No. 1 Florida (21-2, 8-0 SEC)

Time/place: 7:30 p.m./Stegeman Coliseum

Broadcast: 940-AM

About Florida: All four Gator starters average double digits in scoring, led by point guard Taurean Green's 13.8 per game. … Florida leads the nation in scoring margin (plus-23) and field goal percentage (54.1) and is second in 3-point shooting percentage (43.8) and rebounding margin (plus-9.3). … The Gators, who have beaten Georgia six straight times, have won an NCAA-best 14 straight games.

About Georgia: It feels like sophomore guard Mike Mercer, once the Bulldogs' leading scorer, has lost his confidence on the offensive end of the floor, but junior point guard Sundiata Gaines said that's not the case. "No, I don't think he's ever struggled with his confidence," Gaines said with a chuckle. Still, a recent slump clearly is getting to Mercer. He refused to talk to reporters before Tuesday's practice for the first time this season, saying he would make himself available after the workout. Mercer was averaging 16.3 points entering conference play, but he's averaging just 10 against SEC foes. Worse, he's shooting 34 percent from the field and 20 percent behind the 3-point line in SEC games. He's 3-for-16 from behind the 3-point line in the last three games. "I think if he takes better shots, he'll be better from the field," Gaines said. "People are scouting his game really good right now. He needs to be patient on offense." Opponents have figured out that Mercer is not much of a 3-point shooter and are offering him wide-open looks. Mercer needs to stop taking those shots and get back to his strength, driving to the basket. "He's a great player, I can't take that away from him, but sometimes if you make bad decisions, it downgrades your game," Gaines said.

Scouting report: The Bulldogs are 3-5 this year against ranked teams, and that's almost certainly going to drop to 3-6 after today. The Gators are as close to a perfect team as exists in college basketball this year. Georgia coach Dennis Felton said Florida has no weakness, and the Gators have avoided the pitfalls that can befall defending national champions. "So far our guys have not gotten into thinking they're better than they are," Florida coach Billy Donovan said. "They haven't gotten into a situation where they're not working hard. They're trying to handle all the human elements that go into what we're trying to deal with." Georgia will have to play an almost perfect game to win. They have to eliminate turnovers and outrebound Florida (which they did earlier this season), thereby limiting the Gators' possessions as much as possible. If the Bulldogs can get a Florida starter or two into foul trouble, that would help too.

Up next: Georgia vs. South Carolina (7 p.m., Saturday, Columbia, S.C.); Florida vs. Kentucky (9 p.m., Saturday, Lexington, Ky.)

Dawg Post Top Stories