Michael Frazier scores career-high as Florida throttles Georgia
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Breaking the school record for consecutive home wins should be something to celebrate.
Not for No. 7 Florida, which has fallen one step short of the Final Four the last three years.
Michael Frazier II scored a career-high 21 points and the Gators handled Georgia 72-50 on Tuesday night, notching their 25th straight at the O’Connell Center.
Undermanned Florida 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 disappointment, 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 Florida is around."
If Frazier continues to play like he did against the Bulldogs, Florida (14-2, 3-0 Southeastern Conference) 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."
Juwan Parker led Georgia (8-7, 2-1) with 13 points while Marcus Thornton added 11 points and seven rebounds.
Dorian Finney-Smith scored 14 points for Florida, while Will Yeguete added 12 and Young 10.
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 point guard Scottie 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, guard DeVon 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. Florida used a 24-4 run in the first half to open a 20-point lead and pretty much coasted from there. The Bulldogs had 11 turnovers and 11 points with 4:26 remaining before halftime.
"When you play like boys in a man’s game, you’ve got to be tougher than we were tonight. There’s no way around it," Georgia coach Mark Fox said. "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 looked nothing like the same team that upset Missouri and Alabama to open SEC play.
Florida’s press and stifling defense created havoc.
And hitting shots from behind the arc only added to Georgia’s woes. Frazier, Finney-Smith, Wilbekin and Walker all hit 3s in the decisive spurt. Florida finished 11 of 26 from 3-point range.
"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 Bulldogs had nearly as many turnovers (12) as points (16) at the break. They shot 31.6 percent from the field, well shy of Florida’s 50 percent shooting.
The closest Georgia got was 45-31 with about 11 minutes to play.
Frazier’s fifth 3 made it 70-39 and sent many scrambling for the exits in a laugher.
Florida’s last loss at the O’Dome was March 4, 2012, against Kentucky. The Gators have won eight straight this season and 12 in a row at home against the Bulldogs.
"I’m really, really proud of our guys," Gators coach Billy Donovan said. "That’s great. The guys that had won that many in a row obviously did some really special things. These guys haven’t won national championships, but they’ve done some special things as well, and I’m proud of them. It’s a good milestone.
"I think any time you can do something for the first time in school history it’s always nice."