9:00 PM ET, February 17, 2004
Stegeman Coliseum, Athens, Georgia
ATHENS, Ga. (AP) -- Talk about two teams going in opposite directions.Damien Wilkins scored 19 points, Rashad Wright hit a crucial 3-pointer with 1:43 remaining and Georgia knocked off another high-profile opponent with a 76-62 victory over Florida on Tuesday night.The Bulldogs (13-10, 5-7 Southeastern Conference) were coming off an upset of No. 9 Kentucky, which completed a season sweep of the Wildcats.Now, they've knocked off Florida (14-8, 5-6), which was ranked No. 1 in December. Of course, beating the Gators these days isn't quite as impressive -- they've dropped four of their last five games, coming in as an unranked team for the first time since February 1999.Florida played without forward Christian Drejer, who didn't make the trip amid reports that he's considering an offer to play for a professional team in Spain.That's bad enough. If things don't turn around for the Gators -- and quick -- this former No. 1 could find itself battling just to get a spot in the NCAA tournament.Georgia squandered a 10-point lead in the first half, falling behind 40-31 when Lee Humphrey hit a 3-pointer with just under 17 minutes remaining.From that point, the Bulldogs dominated. A 10-0 run put them back ahead, and Florida fell apart after Anthony Roberson's 3-pointer pulled the Gators to 57-54 with 2:59 remaining.Chris Daniels hit a baseline jumper, Roberson missed a trey and Wright connected from outside the arc to push the lead to 62-54. The Bulldogs clinched the win at the foul line, winding up 21-of-24.Georgia also was accurate when defended, hitting 23-of-42 (55 percent) from the field. For good measure, the Bulldogs were 9-of-20 on 3-pointers.Matt Walsh tried to carry the Gators on his shoulders, scoring 28 points. At one point, after hitting a 3, he bowed his arms and screamed at his teammates to buckle down.It didn't work. David Lee, with 11 points, was the only teammate in double figures. Roberson managed only 3 points on 1-of-11 shooting, hounded all night by Wright.Humphrey got only his second start of the season for Florida, as coach Billy Donovan was forced to shuffle things up to compensate for Drejer's absence. Mohamed Abukas and Ryan Appleby also got more playing time.For the second time in four days, the Georgia students stormed the court at Stegeman Coliseum when it was over. The Bulldogs, who lost to Winthrop by 20 points at home in December, are piling up enough quality wins to at least ponder the possibility of sneaking into the NCAA tournament. They also have a victory over No. 18 Georgia Tech.Led by Levi Stukes, Georgia built a 20-10 lead midway through the first half. The freshman hit three of his first four attempts from beyond the 3-point stripe, while Florida missed its first six shots from long range.Humphrey finally hit a trey with 9:47 left in the half, which sparked the Gators. They outscored Georgia 24-9 over the final 10 minutes, capped off by Walsh's two free throws with 25 seconds remaining for a 34-29 lead the break.Walsh scored 15 points in the first half, and the Gators took advantage of their free throw chances, hitting 8-of-9.Georgia, by comparison, didn't even get to the foul line in the first half. That all changed over the final 20 minutes.Stukes finished with 15 points and Jonas Hayes added 14 for the Bulldogs.
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