GAINESVILLE — Billy Donovan had two main concerns going into Florida's game against Georgia Wednesday night: He wondered if his team had moved on from its emotional win over South Carolina last week, and whether Georgia's win over then-No. 8 Tennessee would have the Bulldogs sky-high.
His team was fine, and the Bulldogs weren't able to re-create that same type of play that helped them earn the upset.
The Gators relied on a stifling press that produced 19 turnovers and a dominating inside presence to defeat Georgia 87-71 in front of 10,063 at the O'Connell Center.
"I think they've outrebounded everybody they've played in the SEC, and with their size and their length, we were really going to need to get the game going up and down and try to make our press a little more of a factor than it has been the last few games," Donovan said.
Florida (15-5, 4-2) has won four consecutive SEC games after starting 0-2 in conference play. The Gators had 33 points off turnovers and outscored Georgia 40-32 in the paint.
The Gators got double-digit scoring from their backcourt duo of Erving Walker and Kenny Boynton (21 each), junior forward Alex Tyus (team-high 23) and junior center Vernon Macklin (12). It was the first time since 2000 three Gators have scored more than 20 points in the same game.
"Coach has been trying to get us to be more physical and take the ball to the basket more," the 6-foot-8 Tyus said. "The press was working really well, and we were getting some turnovers, so that helped us with our inside game."
Added Georgia coach Mark Fox: "(Tyus) wore us out inside. We didn't stand up to him. We didn't play any defense at all. … We didn't play well enough to win."
Georgia (9-9, 1-4) trailed 45-33 at halftime, hampered by a costly mistake at the end of the first half. With time running out, Georgia guard Ricky McPhee fouled Walker outside the 3-point line with 2.1 seconds remaining. Walker hit all three free throws.
Georgia trailed by as many as 16 with 11:19 remaining but pulled within 71-63 on a shot by Trey Thompkins (game-high 24 points on 10-of-12 shooting) with 5:40 remaining. That was as close as it got.
Antonya English can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.