Five takeaways from Florida’s close rematch win at Georgia Bulldogs

Remember when Florida couldn’t win basketball games on the road?

Well, the Gators won again away from the friendly confines with a strong second-half performance and a big game from an unlikely source.

Freshman Thomas Haugh scored 17 points as Florida won for the seventh time in its last eight games and 10th straight time over Georgia.

This one was a battle with a final of 88-82 and the Gators are 18-7 and 8-4 in the SEC with the next game (at Alabama) suddenly becoming a huge one in the conference race.

The five takeaways today look at another win for the suddenly mighty Gators.

Haugh was a stud

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Florida was only in the game at the half because Thomas Haugh made all three of his 3-point attempts.

Then he came out and made several big plays in the second half, including a huge floater with 1:42 to play to give Florida an 83-77 lead.

“It was awesome,” Haugh said after scoring a career-high 17 points.

He also had seven rebounds as Florida won the rebounding battle by eight.

“He was the reason why we won today,” Todd Golden said. “He’s going to keep getting better and better.”

The two guards put on a show

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Zyon Pullin made four ginormous free throws at the end of the game to clinch it. He also had seven rebounds and five assists. The guy is playing at a different level than any point guards around Florida in a long time,

Meanwhile, all Walter Clayton Jr. did was lead the team with 21 points.

And even though Will Richard continues to struggle with his shooting, he made all seven of his free throw attempts.

“It’s been a good little roll for us,” Golden said. “Our guys are handling success well and playing hard.”

About those free throws

Andy Lyons/Getty Images
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

That was supposed to be an issue when they missed so many early in the season.

But a lot of it is having the right guys at the free-throw line. Florida made 21-of-26 with Richard, Clayton Jr. and Pullin combining to make all 17 of their free throw tries.

Florida also ended up making one more three than Georgia, and Mike White lost his sixth straight game.

Just thought we’d mention that.

Georgia could not miss a shot

Matt Pendleton-USA TODAY Sports
Matt Pendleton-USA TODAY Sports

The first half started with the Bulldogs making nine of their first 10 shots and leading by 11. As is often the case with Florida’s defense, the Gators had no answer for one guy – Noah Thomasson.

Thomasson scored 17 points in the first half all by his lonesome, and Georgia scored 46 points, the most in an SEC game by the Bulldogs this season.

Thomasson finished with 26 points. Center Russel Tchewa had 15 points but also had five turnovers.

“We challenged them at halftime,” Golden said.

And Florida turned up the defense

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The first 10 minutes of the second half were uncharacteristic for the Gators because they allowed only seven points in the third quarter of the game.

Because of that, the Gators went up eight midway through the second half and were able to maintain the lead the rest of the way even though Georgia drew within a single point.

“The way we played defense in the first half was unacceptable,” Haugh said. “Coach Golden was on us at the half about not giving up any 3s.”

Georgia shot 38% in the second half.

Next up

Michael Chang/Getty Images
Michael Chang/Getty Images

Florida travels to Tuscaloosa for its next matchup on Wednesday, Feb. 21, against the Alabama Crimson Tide. Tipoff is slated for 7 p.m. ET and the game will be broadcast on ESPN2.

Read more

Florida stands pat in USA TODAY Sports bracketology ahead of UGA

Gators leap into thick of The Athletic’s tournament bracket watch

Florida basketball sneaks into top 25 of ESPN’s Jay Bilas Index


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Story originally appeared on Gators Wire