Georgia basketball eliminated from SEC tournament with loss to Florida

By Ethan Wilcox

The University of Georgia’s men’s basketball team suffered an 85-80 defeat to Florida on Thursday night in the second round of the SEC tournament at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville.

Georgia shot 42.1% from behind the three-point line, but gave up 23 fastbreak points and 23 points off free throws. Georgia shot 42.4% from the field, close to their season average of 42.9%, but only scored 13 points off 11 Florida turnovers.

Florida took a 7-2 lead to start the game, resulting in an early Georgia timeout. However, Georgia began to claw back by scoring nine straight points starting at the 10-minute mark. The Bulldogs took their first lead after a layup from junior Jalen DeLoach close to the seven-minute mark to make it 23-22. Georgia ended the first half leading 37-34 courtesy of a goaltending call against Florida.

“I thought we did a really good job in the first half defending the glass,” said Georgia head coach Mike White in the postgame press conference.

The Bulldogs started the second half strong until a 7-0 run from Florida saw the game tied with fourteen minutes to go. There was foul trouble with freshman Blue Cain, freshman Silas Demary Jr. and senior Russel Tchewa, who committed four fouls each. Georgia hit late shots as part of a spirited effort to keep the game within two possessions, but Florida concluded the game by hitting important free throws despite prior free throw struggles in the first half.

“I thought our guys played really hard and put ourselves in a position to potentially advance again,” White said.

Demary Jr. finished the game shooting 5-for-10 and senior Noah Thomasson shot 4-for-12 to both score 14 points with three assists each. Junior Jalen DeLoach led Georgia with five rebounds, an improvement from his two rebounds against Missouri on Wednesday, while Cain only scored five points despite his previous 19-point game. Senior Jabri Abdur-Rahim, Georgia’s second-leading scorer, did not play due to injury.

White attributed Georgia’s struggles to size differential and poor transition defense. White also picked up a rare technical foul that allowed Florida to score two points.

“I was displeased with some calls, and I voiced my opinion, which is very prevalent in this league,” White said. 

A strong SEC Tournament run was needed to strengthen the Bulldog’s resume after finishing two consecutive regular seasons with a 6-12 record in the conference. An 11th straight loss to Florida practically eliminates Georgia’s chances of an NCAA Tournament berth, but a chance to play in the National Invitation Tournament remains. The NIT selection show is set to take place on Sunday at 8:30 p.m.