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Florida Gators stay perfect in SEC, beat Georgia Bulldogs

Patric Young gets fouled going in for a layup in a second half in which the Gators allow one basket over the first 11½ minutes.

Associated Press

Patric Young gets fouled going in for a layup in a second half in which the Gators allow one basket over the first 11½ minutes.

ATHENS, Ga. — Scottie Wilbekin helped No. 8 Florida get through a sluggish first half.

His teammates took it from there.

Wilbekin matched a career high with 17 points, 13 before halftime, and the Gators romped past another Southeastern Conference opponent, beating Georgia 64-47 Wednesday night.

Florida (15-2, 5-0 SEC) trailed 27-24 at halftime after making just 1 of 9 3-pointers. But the Gators quickly turned things around as Wilbekin and Mike Rosario hit consecutive 3s and forced Georgia into three straight turnovers.

The Gators led the rest of way, holding Georgia (7-11, 1-4) to one field goal in the first 11½ minutes of the second half.

"My shots were falling," Wilbekin said. "They were opening up the lane. I was able to drive in the first half. They made it easy for me."

Everyone else was struggling, but the Gators looked more familiar in the second half. UF sank 7 of 11 3-pointers and turned up the defensive pressure, limiting Georgia to 32 percent (6-of-19) from the field. The Bulldogs finished with 17 turnovers to only seven for Florida.

"We knew it was going to be a grind-it-out, physical game," Gators coach Billy Donovan said. "They were not going to get in a running game with us. They were going to run some clock. They forced us to dig a little deeper."

Despite never leading in the first half, Florida added to its run of dominance in conference play. The Gators have won their first five SEC games by an average of nearly 25 points.

Wilbekin, who was averaging 8.3 points, equaled his career best from a November victory over Central Florida. Kenny Boynton added 14 points and Erik Murphy had 13.

"Scottie and the Georgia turnovers kept us close," Donovan said. "We could've been down 10 or 12. To only be down by three at the half, we were fortunate."

Florida already had beaten Georgia 77-44 two weeks ago in Gainesville, but the Bulldogs were more competitive in this one, at least for a half. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope led the home team with 16 points.

No other Georgia player was in double figures.

"A tale of two halves," Bulldogs coach Mark Fox said. "We didn't start the second half well at all. We just couldn't stabilize our defense in the second half. We just couldn't find a way to get stops in the second half, and they shot the ball very well."

Florida Gators stay perfect in SEC, beat Georgia Bulldogs 01/23/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, January 23, 2013 11:40pm]
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