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Florida basketball talks Georgia Bulldogs win in postgame scrum

Florida basketball has really turned things around after a very rough start to the Southeastern Conference schedule and are now cruising along with an 18-7 overall record along with an 8-4 mark in SEC play. A win at the Georgia Bulldogs gave the Gators its third-straight win and seventh in their last eight tries.

It was not all smooth sailing for the Orange and Blue on Saturday afternoon, which saw its opponent explode out of the gates, ultimately taking a six-point lead into the halftime locker room. The visitors stepped up in the second half, however, and pulled off the six-point victory to win the season series against UGA.

Following the game, head coach Todd Golden along with Walter Clayton Jr. and Thomas Haugh spoke with the media. Take a look below at what they had to offer.

GOLDEN: On Haugh’s performance

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

I don’t think there was any question about that. He was just huge for all 40, but I thought he was humongous in the first half – kept us in it. He hit all three of his threes in the first half, all very much needed to keep them at bay and keep us in the ballgame.

He played so hard. He had four offensive rebounds. The one late, with under a minute, it was huge. It kept it from being a one-possession game. Credit to him and (Alex Condon), I thought both those guys played really hard. It’s tough to finish a game on the road in the SEC with two freshmen in the frontcourt, and both those guys did a great job to finish it up for us.

GOLDEN: On the difference in the second half

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

We challenged our team pretty good at halftime. We gave up 46 in the second half against LSU, so another 46-point half. It was a little bit just asking our guys what we want our identity to be. Do we want to be a team that is really good offensively but looks like a team that doesn’t have much interest in guarding? Or do we want to be a complete team that has a chance to play deep into the season?

My challenge to them was I want to see more of that second team. I thought we did a better job in the second half with our physicality. We were getting on 50-50 balls better. We did a better job on the glass. We did a better job staying attached to shooters. They made six threes in the first half, got up 15 (three-point attempts), we only allowed nine attempts in the second half. One of them was a late on a switch.

GOLDEN: On Zyon Pullin’s performance

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

Obviously, he’s really, really comfortable and really good at running the team and keeping us in our stuff and finding guys. He’s like the ultimate security blanket out there. He’s going to be able to get us organized and get us into something. He does a good job finding guys. He does a good job of recognizing when things are available.

Like, he called that action early in the second half for will to get that stop-behind three on our Iverson action. So he’s out there seeing things and playing quarterback for us. To have a fifth-year to do that gives me a lot of comfort and makes our team a lot better.

CLAYTON: On getting a win in the rivalry game

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

It means a lot to get a road game victory. That’s always big. The big rivalry for me – I’ve said it multiple times – is FSU. Georgia was the rivalry after that, so I’m glad we got the win for the fans.

CLAYTON: On Golden’s message when the team fell behind early

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

Stay the course. Get stops. Forty-six points in the first half, you just can’t let that happen. They were scoring at will. We had zero kills (three straight stops), so that’s the main thing. Just get stops. The offense was fine.

CLAYTON: On weathering UGA’s 7-for-7 start from the field

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

Just stay the course. We knew the offense would be fine. They were at home. The crowd had energy, and they got out to a great start. Just matched buckets to stay in the game and be able to overtake them.

HAUGH: On what was working for him

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

My shot started clicking a little bit, but it’s always a team effort. We came together in the second half and regrouped, and just got the win at the end.

HAUGH: On why the three-point shooting clicked for him

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

I just work on it a lot, and I got some opportunities to shoot the ball and just capitalized on it.

HAUGH: On getting 50-50 balls in the second half

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

Just being more aggressive. Coach Golden said that – he said they’re getting all the 50-50 balls, and that’s a huge part of the game. Those plays add up in the end, so we just stayed aggressive and got them 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.

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Story originally appeared on Gators Wire