Wednesday, February 8, 2017

UF Basketball: No. 17 Florida Defeats Georgia to Sweep Regular Season Series

The No. 17 Florida Gators (19-5, 9-2 SEC) swept their regular season series against the Georgia Bulldogs (13-11, 4-7 SEC) with a 72-60 victory in Athens tonight. The game was close for a bit as Florida led 35-33 at the half, however the Gators were just too much for the Dawgs in the second half.

Florida's Leading Men
The Gators were led by backup point guard Chris Chiozza. Playing 28 minutes in the contest, Chiozza dropped a team-high 15 points with two assists, four rebounds, and four steals. He shot 6 of 10 from the field, sinking two of his five three-point attempts. Chiozza has really picked it up these last few games, and continues to be an important cog to the Gators success in the new year.

Another important performance off the bench came from Canyon Barry. In 25 minutes of action, the graduate transfer registered 11 points while going a perfect 4/4 with his underhanded free throws. He also logged two steals, a block, and five rebounds.

The final bench player I'll mention is power forward Kevarrius Hayes. It was not about his offensive production (he scored just five points) but instead more about his presence in the paint. Hayes blocked a team-high four shots while coming down with five rebonds, three which were offensive.

Among the starters, both point guard Kasey Hill and small forward Justin Leon led the way. Hill led the team with 30 minutes played and in that span he scored 12 points with a game-high five assists. He had two steals and made both of his free throw attempts as well.

Leon had 10 points on the night while shooting an impressive 4 of 7 from the field. He brought down a team-high seven boards with one of them being offensive. He recorded two steals as well.

Georgia's Leading Men
For Georgia, they were led by the tandem of small forward Yante Manten and guard J.J. Frazier. Scoring a game-high 19 points, Manten went 7 of 15 on his field goal attempts. He made all but one of his five shots from the charity strike and dished out two assists with one block. His five turnovers led all players on the night.

Frazier kept up with Manten as he logged 18 points on a 5 of 13 shooting effort. He made 6 out of 9 free throws while corralling eight rebounds and notching two steals.

The final member of Georgia's starting five worth mentioning is power forward Derek Ogbeide. He had just two points for the whole game, but gave Florida problems on the interior. He collected a game-high 10 rebounds while blocking four shots.

Final Takeaway
I thought this would be a tough game for the No. 17 ranked Gators after they needed overtime to escape the Dawgs at home. Fortunately, I was wrong. Florida responded to the somewhat hostile Georgia crowd in a very positive way as they sank 13 of their 16 free throw attempts and turned the ball over just eight times.

With this victory tonight and No. 19 South Carolina (19-5, 9-2 SEC) falling to Alabama (14-9, 7-4 SEC), Florida is now in a three-way tie for first place in the SEC with No. 15 Kentucky (19-5, 9-2 SEC) and the Gamecocks.

The Gators will look to maybe seize first place outright as they return to Gainesville to face the Texas A&M Aggies (12-10, 4-6 SEC) on the 11th. Tipoff is set for noon and the game can be seen on ESPN2.

As for Georgia, they fall to 0-5 against teams ranked in the AP Top 25. They have lost three straight games now and are the third worst team in the SEC. They will try to get back on track as they head to Knoxville to take on the Tennessee Volunteers (13-10, 5-5 SEC). Tipoff is at 4 p.m. and the game can be seen on ESPNU.

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