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Monday, March 20, 2023
Gators guard Will Richard flexes after finishing a shot against the Vanderbilt Commodores in an 88-80 defeat, Saturday, Feb. 11, 2023.
Gators guard Will Richard flexes after finishing a shot against the Vanderbilt Commodores in an 88-80 defeat, Saturday, Feb. 11, 2023.

The Gators saw their lead dwindle to just two midway through the second half against the rival Georgia Bulldogs. 

Florida turned to sophomore guard Will Richard with the game on the line. Richard buried a triple from the top of the arc and later hit a mid-range jumper to extend the lead, and UF never looked back. 

Richard scored a career-high 24 points on an 8-11 clip and finished 5-8 from deep. 

The Florida Gators (15-15, 8-9 SEC) swept the season series against Georgia (16-14, 6-11 SEC) with a 77-67 victory in their final road game of the regular season Tuesday night. 

UF suffocated the Bulldogs on defense and held them to 33% from the field and just 18% from deep. Georgia made just one of its 15 3-point attempts in the second half.

The Gators shot 54% in the game and 37% from beyond the arc. Freshman guard Riley Kugel scored 19 points and finished 8-12 from the field. Graduate student guard Myreon Jones followed closely behind with 14 points. 

Georgia guard Terry Roberts drilled a three on the game’s first possession. He made a layup later to give him five early points. 

Kugel hit a jumper to give Florida its first points. Richard tied the game when he knocked down a 3-pointer.

Gators senior center Jason Jitoboh found graduate student guard Kyle Lofton, who cut to the basket and scored an open layup. Lofton later launched a full-court lob to Kugel, who finished a transition layup. 

Bulldogs guard Jabri Abdur-Rahim hit a corner three to make it a one-point game early in the first half. 

Kugel attacked the rim and made a floater for Florida’s fourth-straight make. The Gators started the game shooting 7-8. 

UF missed its next five shot attempts and went on a four-minute-long scoring drought. Georgia center Braelen Bridges gave the Bulldogs the lead after he battled down low and scored over his defender. 

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Florida junior guard Trey Bonham ended UF’s scoring drought when he sank a pair of free throws. The Gators trailed by one after the successful trip to the charity stripe. 

Jones and Georgia guard Justin Hill traded baskets on the next two possessions. 

Bridges hit a long jumper coming out of a timeout. Jitoboh tried to respond, but the Bulldogs' defense stifled him on his first shot and then again on his put-back attempt. The senior center wouldn’t be denied. He buried a floater from near the free-throw line on a later possession.

Kugel tied the game at 26 when he drained a catch-and-shoot triple out of an inbound play. 

The Gators took the lead when Jones found Richard in the corner for a 3-pointer. Jones pulled up for a deep three on the next possession and hit the shot to cap off three consecutive triples for UF. 

The barrage of 3-pointers forced Georgia head coach Mike White to take a timeout with his team down by four. White’s timeout failed to spark the Bulldogs’ offense, which went five minutes without a made field goal. 

Jones drove to the cup but had his initial layup blocked out of bounds. He attacked the basket again and scored a layup on his second try. 

Kugel stole the ball and found Richard, who buried a 3-pointer over a defender to cap an 11-0 Florida run. Hill ended the Gators’ streak with a three on the next play. 

Jones kicked the ball out to Richard in the corner in the closing seconds of the first half. Richard knocked down a fadeaway triple at the buzzer to give Florida a 43-33 lead against Georgia at halftime. 

Richard hit four of the Gators' six first-half 3-pointers. UF shot 56% from the field and 55% from deep in the first half. 

Kugel threw an alley-oop to sophomore forward Alex Fudge, who scored the second half’s first points. Roberts responded with a layup. 

Bulldogs guard Kario Oquendo cut the lead to six when he scored four points in a row. Kugel made a jumper to end Georgia’s run. Jones found Kugel down low for a layup to push the lead back to double figures. 

Richard nailed a mid-range jumper after Jitoboh handed the ball off to him. Oquendo hit a floater to end a streak of nine straight misses for the Bulldogs.

Jitoboh continued to stymie Georgia down low and stuffed Hill for his fourth block — a new career high. Oquendo caught an inbound pass and hit a layup to cut the deficit to six. 

Both teams traded layups following Oquendo’s score. Hill drew a foul on a 3-point attempt as the shot clock ticked down. He failed to capitalize from the free-throw line and made just one of his three attempts. 

Fudge left the game after he went down on the court covering his face after contact with a defender — he re-entered the game later in the second half.

The Bulldogs missed three straight shots on the other end but grabbed their own rebound each time before center Frank Anselem dunked the ball. 

Richard sank a 3-pointer from the top of the arc to give the Gators a four-point lead. Georgia scored on the other end, but Richard hit a long 2-pointer and Jitoboh scored a floater to push the lead back to seven. 

Kugel and Richard both attacked the rim for layups to add to Florida’s advantage. Jones nailed a floater to cap off six straight Gators makes. Fudge drove and spun around his defender for a layup as the lead swelled back to double digits.

The Gators turned the ball over in the final minute and Oquendo drew a shooting foul. He failed to cut the deficit and missed both his free throws. 

Bulldogs forward Jailyn Ingram hit Georgia's first 3-pointer of the second half with 42 seconds left to bring his team within six. The Gators broke the Bulldogs' full-court press as Richard found Kugel for an open dunk. 

Georgia was forced to foul late and couldn’t get back into the game. Florida defeated its rival and ended a three-game losing streak. 

The Gators will play their regular-season finale against the Louisiana State Tigers in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center Saturday. The game will tip off at 6 p.m. and be broadcast on SEC Network. 

Contact Jackson Reyes at Follow him on Twitter @JacksnReyes.

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Jackson Reyes

Jackson Reyes is a third-year journalism major and one of the assistant sports editors for the Spring 2023 semester. In his free time, he enjoys collecting records, long walks on the beach and tweeting about Caleb Williams.

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