January 23, 2013

Second-half meltdown

FoxFlorida from Anthony Dasher on Vimeo.

Georgia coach Mark Fox couldn't have asked more from his team the first half of Wednesday night's game against 8th-ranked Florida.

The second half, well, let's just say that was a different story - a much different one as the Gators out-scored the Bulldogs 40-20 and rolled to a 64-47 win before a Stegeman Coliseum crowd of 6,793.

"As well as we started the first half, we didn't the start the second half well at all and just couldn't stabilize our defense in the second half," Fox said. "I was really disappointed in the second half performance tonight, but it was against a very good team."

Fox wasn't kidding.

In the first half, Georgia played arguably what was one of its better 20-minute efforts to date, easing out to a 27-24 lead on a 3-pointer at the buzzer by Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.

But whatever momentum the Bulldogs might have thought they had quickly evaporated in the second half.

It was about as ugly as it could get.

With the Gators (15-2, 5-0) turning up the defensive pressure, Georgia managed to hit just six field goals over the final 20 minutes, including only two the first 11:25.

Florida, meanwhile, was has having no problems finding its respective range, building a 19-point lead with 2:34 to play.

"We wanted to throw the first punch and we did," said Caldwell-Pope, who led the Bulldogs (7-11, 1-4) with 16 points. "We're a young team, but we still need to finish games."

Williams continues to be what for the most part has been a one-man offensive show for Georgia.

After scoring 14 points in Sunday's win against LSU, Williams was a non-factor offensively against the Gators, going just 1-for-4 from the field with two points as no other Bulldog besides Caldwell-Pope finished in double-figures.

"We've got to get some other guys making plays for us," said Fox, who said he felt like his Bulldogs would be more competitive after being blown out by the Gators 77-44 two weeks ago in Gainesville.

"I felt like we could win the game," Fox said. "I thought we could really match up and guard but we didn't do it in the second half, but we thought we could win the game. We played really pretty well for a half, but just didn't play well the second."

Scottie Wibekin led Florida with 17 points, followed by Kenny Boynton with 14 and Erik Murphy with 13.

"I think they played harder than us in the first half," Boynton said. "We expected them to play harder, but we also made a few mistakes. In the second half, we tried to push up on them defensively and take away their three-point shots and force them do drive. Basically, that's what we were able to do and eventually came away with the win."

Those expecting the Bulldogs to roll over like they did in that earlier meeting in Gainesville were sorely disappointed after Georgia jumped out to a quick 11-2 lead four minutes into the game.

Not surprisingly, Florida quickly rallied back, twice drawing within one at 13-12 and 15-14 before 6-2 run by the Bulldogs gave them their largest advantage at 21-16 with 6:07 on the clock.

From there, Georgia nursed the lead until a jumper by Will Yeguete tied at 24.

But the Gators never did claim the lead, and instead went into the locker room down by three following a 27-footer at the buzzer by Caldwell-Pope, who tallied eight points the first half.

NOTES: Georgia returns to action Saturday night when the Bulldogs travel to SEC newcomer Texas A&M ( 5 p.m., FSN). The Bulldogs' next home game in Jan.30 against Auburn. ... The Bulldogs turned the ball over 17 times, compared to just seven for the Gators.