Florida at Georgia game preview
Game time: 8 p.m. ETTV: ESPN 3
After winning each of its first four league games by at least 21 points, Florida has shown it might be the team to beat in the SEC.
The eighth-ranked Gators began their conference dominance with a home rout of Georgia, but will look to end their recent road struggles against the Bulldogs while trying for a seventh straight victory overall Wednesday night.
Florida (14-2, 4-0) has regrouped nicely from a 67-61 loss at Kansas State on Dec. 22, jumping out to its best SEC start since the 2006-07 team began 11-0 en route to a second straight national title. Tied with No. 23 Mississippi atop the conference, the Gators have shot 51.5 percent and allowed 48.8 points while winning their SEC contests by an average of 26.7.
"We've got 18 diamonds to pick up," said junior center Patric Young, referring to the SEC's 18-game schedule. "We've gotten four. We're just going to prepare for the next game. We're going to do our job."
Florida opened league play by shooting 52.7 percent in a 77-44 rout of Georgia (7-10, 1-3) on Jan. 9. The Gators jumped out to an 11-0 lead and cruised while holding the Bulldogs to 38.9 percent shooting and forcing 19 turnovers.
The Gators hope to be as successful in Athens, where their lone win in the last four trips came in double overtime, 104-91 on Jan. 25, 2011. Then-No. 12 Florida shot 36.7 percent overall and 5 of 23 from 3-point range in a 76-62 loss at Georgia on Feb. 25.
Florida looks to avoid a letdown after rolling to an 83-52 home win over No. 22 Missouri on Saturday. With the victory, Billy Donovan joined Kentucky's Adolph Rupp and LSU's Dale Brown as the only coaches in SEC history to win 400 games.
"It means a lot for us to make Coach happy," senior guard Kenny Boynton, who had 14 points. "It definitely means a lot, and we definitely want to keep them coming."
Erik Murphy scored 15, Scottie Wilbekin had 13 with 10 assists while Will Yeguete added 13 points and six rebounds off the bench for Florida. The Gators took a 15-2 lead and shot 59.3 percent while converting 21 Missouri turnovers into 34 points.
"We've got potential to be really good, but we've got to keep working," said Boynton, who averages a team-leading 13.3 points.
Even more impressive is that the Gators continue to succeed despite nagging injuries to Yeguete, Wilbekin, Murphy and Mike Rosario. Rosario scored 19 versus Georgia earlier this month.
Boynton was held to 11 in last season's defeat at Georgia after totaling 46 in his previous two trips to Athens.
Georgia guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope ranks among the SEC leaders with 17.1 points per game, but was held to 11 at Florida two weeks ago. Caldwell-Pope, who scored 18 against the Gators last season, had 22 as the Bulldogs snapped a three-game skid with a 67-58 win over LSU on Saturday.
The Bulldogs are 0-4 against Top 25 teams this season and have dropped five straight such games since beating Florida in February.