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Monday, June 24, 2024

So much has changed since the last time UF and Georgia met.

In that game Jan. 24, the Bulldogs (17-7, 4-5 Southeastern Conference) dominated the Gators (15-9, 4-5 SEC) in every aspect of the 82-55 rout. Georgia guard Ashley Houts had as many points in the first half (21) as the entire UF squad.

Each team has taken its lumps since then.

The Bulldogs have won only one of their five games since then - a 72-58 victory against Arkansas, ranked 11th out of 12 in the SEC. The tough stretch dropped Georgia out of the AP Top 25 for the first time since the week of Jan. 13, 2003 - a span of 98 weeks.

UF has gone 2-3 in the time since the last meeting. The Gators seemed to turn a corner after a Feb. 7 victory against Auburn but followed it up with a loss to lowly Mississippi State.

With the teams tied for sixth place in the SEC, Thursday's 7 p.m. matchup in Athens will have plenty of postseason implications.

Both teams may be missing a player as well.

Georgia senior Rebecca Rowsey will miss the rest of the season due to complications from a previous knee injury, according to a Georgia press release. Rowsey did not have a big impact in the last game, however, going scoreless in eight minutes of action.

UF point guard Lonnika Thompson is questionable for Thursday's game. The sophomore sprained her shoulder against Auburn on Feb. 7 and did not play against Mississippi State on Sunday.

UF coach Amanda Butler has plenty of respect for the talented Georgia team, which sports All-American Tasha Humphrey, and credits league parity for part of the Bulldogs' struggles.

"I'm always surprised when a lot of teams in our league lose," Butler said. "You scout them, and you watch them on film, and you get to know them so well that it's hard to imagine them getting beat. They're one of those teams that I always put in that category."

With Thompson likely to come off the bench if she plays, sophomore guard Jennifer Mossor will probably make her second straight start.

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Mossor has become an offensive powerhouse, scoring 17 and 20 in her last two games, respectively, well above her season average of 7.5 points per game.

"I've just been shooting the ball with confidence," Mossor said. "That's basically it. My teammates have been getting me the ball."

Coaches pulled aside the ever-upbeat Mossor recently, asking her to become more serious at important times.

"Jen enjoys life. She likes to laugh," assistant coach Susie Gardner said. "But there's a point in time when, 'Hey, you know Jen, you're one of our best shooters.' As a shooter you have got to focus. You have got to come in the gym extra.

"I think that maybe some conversations she's had with some of the coaching staff (and) the self-evaluation of what she wants to give to this program this year has caused her to have two outstanding games in a row."

It won't be easy - Georgia has dominated UF lately. The Bulldogs have won the last seven meetings by an average of 26.1 points per game.

"History says that Georgia beats us pretty good," Gardner said. "But I also know Georgia well enough to know they're a little fragile right now."

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