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Monday, February 26, 2024

Depree Bowden remembers the last time Georgia came to town.

She called it "a nightmare."

"We just didn't play very well," Bowden said. "We're looking forward to playing them on Thursday."

The Bulldogs destroyed the Gators 77-54 in the O'Connell Center on Jan. 28, and it wasn't as if the outcome was all that shocking.

Georgia leads the all-time series 40-10 and has won the previous seven meetings, the last six by a margin of 19 points or more.

On paper it seems Thursday's matchup may unfold similarly, considering the No. 17 Bulldogs (15-3, 2-2 Southeastern Conference) start three players at 6-foot-3 or taller and rank higher than the Gators (13-5, 2-1 SEC) in every statistical category except steals per game. UF has lost its last 11 games against ranked teams.

All-American forward Tasha Humphrey leads the Georgia attack with 16.7 points and 8.6 rebounds per game.

"You can't stop her from scoring, but you can box her out," UF coach Amanda Butler said. "You can limit her second-chance opportunities."

Sophomore guard Ashley Houts makes a powerful companion in the backcourt, scoring 12.6 points and dishing out 4.6 assists per game.

The duo, both listed at 6-foot-3, combined to light up UF for 35 points in last year's blowout.

It may be suggested that Georgia enters Thursday's game limping, having lost three of its last five and holding a 1-3 road record. All three road losses have come by double digits, and the Bulldogs' sole win away from home was at Florida International, a member of the Sun Belt Conference.

Butler rejected the notion that UF might be able to steal an easy victory.

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"You can't look at what happened in their last game and think that's going to be any indication of what's going to happen in their next game," she said during the SEC teleconference Tuesday. "We fully expect to get their best effort."

But don't count UF out just yet, as the team has won nine of its last ten games and comes in riding an eight-game home winning streak.

The Gators have three players scoring in double digits, and the team has excelled in pushing the tempo as well as utilizing its deep bench.

Butler has preached to her players about "protecting the home court" since setting foot in Gainesville, and they have responded with an 11-1 home record.

She realizes, however, that Georgia will be the most talented team to visit the O'Dome so far.

"It'll be a big indicator as to if they really, really believe that we're supposed to win every game we play here or just sometimes."

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