Gators open SEC slate with win over Bulldogs

The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

GAINESVILLE -- With defensive intensity and some timely 3-point shooting, Florida had few anxious moments in its SEC opener against Georgia.
Mike Rosario led four Florida scorers in double-figures with 19 points, lifting the No. 11 Gators (11-2, 1-0 SEC) to a 77-44 win over Georgia before 11,366 at the O'Connell Center.
"With the SEC opening up, we feel like we're playing for something bigger now," Rosario said. "We came out focused and ready to play."
Erik Murphy, playing through a broken rib, added 11 points for the Gators. Patric Young scored 11 points and Casey Prather had 10 points and seven rebounds.
Murphy, who wore a protective pad over his rib, went 3-for-6 from 3-point range. A Rhode Island native, Murphy was unable to play in his homecoming game last Sunday at Yale
"They felt alright," Murphy said of his ribs. "They weren't too bad. Obviously, I didn't play in the Yale game that I would have liked to play in, but it was best to rest up and get ready for SEC play."
Georgia (6-8, 0-1 SEC) had its modest four-game winning streak snapped. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope led the Bulldogs with 11 points. But Georgia couldn't respond after falling behind 11-0 early. The Gators led by as many as 34 points in the second half before emptying their bench.
"Florida just overwhelmed us," Georgia coach Mark Fox said. "We started in a hole and the environment overwhelmed a couple of our kids, and so did Florida's defense."
Georgia played without starting forward Donte Williams and reserve guard Kenny Gaines. Both did not make the trip for violation of team rules.
"We were a little short," Fox said. "We didn't play well enough. I have to give Florida credit."
Florida, which came into the game fourth in scoring defense at 52.7 points per game, held an opponent to under 50 points for the seventh time in 13 games this season. The Gators held Georgia to 38.9 percent shooting and scored 27 points off 19 Georgia turnovers. Many of the turnovers came off UF's press, which flustered the Bulldogs throughout the game.
"Our defensive effort was very, very good," Florida coach Billy Donovan said. "But I'm somewhat cautioned in saying that because Georgia wasn't at full strength to be able to do what they normally do offensively."
Offensively, the Gators shot 52.7 percent from the floor and 46.2 percent (12-for-26) from 3-point range.
Florida ended any chance of a Georgia comeback with five straight 3-pointers during a second-half stretch. Two came from UF freshman Michael Frazier, who finished with six points off the bench. Frazier's 3-pointer from the corner that rattled in-and-out put UF ahead 53-26 with 11:26 remaining.
"They played us a lot of zone in the first half," Donovan said. "Our press in the second half allowed us to create some tempo and pace and then some turnovers and steals allowed the game to get going up and down the floor for us."
Florida opened the game with an 11-0 run. Prather scored UF's first six points with a putback, a mid-range jumper and a dunk following a steal off the press. Mike Rosario followed with a driving baseline layup, then Erik Murphy hit a 3-pointer to extend UF's lead to 11-0.
Murphy's second 3-pointer of the first half put Florida ahead 19-4 before Georgia worked its way back. Caldwell-Pope scored five straight points for the Bulldogs, and a Nemanja Djurisic inside basket cut UF's lead to 24-13. But Young ended the run with a hook shot. Frazier then found a wide-open Murphy inside to extend UF's lead to 28-15 at halftime.
NOTES: Prather made his first start of the season. ... Florida played its first home game since an 82-43 win over Southeastern Louisiana on Dec. 19.

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