Georgia falls behind early, loses at No. 7 Florida

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Georgia looked nothing like the team that upset then-No. 21 Missouri and Alabama to open Southeastern Conference play.

No. 7 Florida and its stifling, pressing defense had a lot to do with it.

Juwan Parker scored 13 points and Marcus Thornton added 11 but Georgia couldn’t overcome a horrible first half and lost 72-50 to the Gators Tuesday night.

“When you play like boys in a man’s game, you’ve got to be tougher than we were tonight,” Georgia coach¬†Mark¬†Fox said. “There’s no way around it. We’ve got to play better on the road in environments like this against teams like this. … We didn’t come in here with the mentality we needed to play a team like them on the road.”

Georgia (8-7, 2-1), which has lost 12 straight in Gainesville, was outscored 24-4 during a 10-plus-minute span in the first half. The Bulldogs had 11 turnovers and 11 points with 4:26 remaining in the half.

And when Florida (14-2, 3-0) started getting hot from 3-point range, it only added to Georgia’s woes. Michael Frazier II, Dorian Finney-Smith, Scottie Wilbekin and DeVon Walker all hit 3s in the decisive spurt. Florida finished 11 of 26 from behind the arc.

“We lost our poise,” Thornton said. “We got too relaxed and made some very immature plays, and once you get behind the 8-ball in a place like Florida, they will crush you quickly. The game was decided in right there in the first half.”

The closest Georgia got was 45-31 with 11:37 to play.

Florida pulled away with another flurry of 3s, most of them from Frazier. His fifth of the night made it 67-39 and sent many scrambling for the exits in a laugher.

Frazier finished with a career-high 21 points as Florida set a school record with its 25th consecutive win at home.

The undermanned Gators topped the previous mark set between March 2006 and November 2007. Two-time national champions Corey Brewer, Taurean Green, Al Horford and Joakim Noah did most of the heavy lifting in that streak.

This group, which has four seniors who have tasted plenty of disappointed, barely acknowledged their achievement.

“It’s cool to be a part of that and to accomplish something like that,” center Pat Young said. “Hopefully we can top it with an NCAA championship and a Final Four and all that good stuff. Making a record that someone else has to break is pretty cool. Hopefully it stays here for another 100 years or however¬†longFlorida is around.”

If Frazier continues to play like he did against the Bulldogs, Florida certainly could improve its chances of making a deep run in the NCAA tournament. Frazier made 7 of 16 shots, including 5 of 12 from 3-point range. His previous high was 20 points in a loss to Wisconsin early this season.

Coaches and teammates told Frazier to keep shooting despite a 1-for-8 start.

“Any time you can get hot like that, catch fire, it feels good,” Frazier said. “My teammates had great confidence in me, coaches told me to keep shooting. That always feels good to have my teammates and my coaches behind me.”

Florida won despite playing its second game without leading scorer Casey Prather, who sat out with a bruised right knee. The Gators had just seven scholarship players available. They got even thinner when Wilbekin left the game midway through the second half with cramps.

He got treatment and returned a few minutes later. But just as he re-entered the game, Walker headed to the locker room with a busted lip.

In the midst of those issues, the Gators went 9:43 without a field goal in the second half, but the Bulldogs did little to take advantage of the lull.

Georgia’s real problem was the opening 20 minutes.

“We were impatient on offense; we didn’t get good shots off,” said guard Charles Mann, the SEC’s player of the week who finished with eight points after scoring 40 in Georgia’s previous two wins. “Florida played really, really well with great defense, and that bothered us. Florida is a very good team, very well-coached and they played hard, but it was a winnable game for us.”

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