GAINESVILLE — Coach Billy Donovan's message after last week's loss to Tennessee was that the Gators needed to bring intensity and focus right from the start. Anything less would be unacceptable.
Tuesday night, it appeared the message was well-received.
The Gators dominated early and never let up in a 70-48 win over Georgia in front of 10,506 at the O'Connell Center. The Gators (13-4, 1-1 SEC) won their 15th straight home game and allowed their fewest points since they beat American 67-48 in 2010.
"We didn't really talk about it, but coach in the back of his mind, it was like we can't go 0-2, especially losing in our own place," sophomore center Patric Young said. "Anytime you step on the court you want to come out with a victory, especially if it's an SEC game."
Florida led 35-21 at halftime, shooting 50 percent from the field. The Gators held the Bulldogs (9-7, 0-2) to 4-of-14 shooting in the early minutes.
"I felt that we played with a lot of energy and passion and we went out there and concentrated on the things we needed to do in order to win the game," junior guard Mike Rosario said.
Florida led by 25 with 11:38 left but allowed the Bulldogs to pull within 58-45 with 4:45 left.
"In the second half there were moments when we competed really well, like we should have been doing the whole game," said forward Nemanja Djurisic, the Bulldogs' lone double-figure scorer with 14. "Once we got the lead down to (13) we just let them slide easy and get the lead back over 20."
Donovan said there are still concerns. Georgia had 14 offensive rebounds to Florida's six, and the Bulldogs' late run showed "we lost our focus."
"We gave up way too many offensive rebounds and loose basketballs," he said. "I was much more pleased with our effort on the other end of the floor, our level of awareness, being alert, sharp and focused. I think if you hold any team to 48 points you've done a pretty good job defensively."
Antonya English can be reached at [email protected]