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Georgia coach Mike White to face former team in Florida

Jan 4, 2023; Athens, Georgia, USA; Georgia Bulldogs head coach Mike White coaches guards Mardrez McBride (13) and Terry Roberts (0) against the Auburn Tigers during the second half at Stegeman Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Florida is bracing for the return of its former coach — and in desperate need of a win — as it hosts Georgia on Saturday in a Southeastern Conference showdown in Gainesville, Fla.

The Gators (7-7. 0-2 SEC) have lost three straight and are still in search of their first conference win of the season.

It won’t get any easier facing a Georgia team that’s won four straight under head coach Mike White, who left the Gators last March to take the Georgia job.

“We’ve got to worry about ourselves and make sure we’re doing what we’re capable of to win the game,” first-year Florida coach Todd Golden said. “Obviously, there might be a little extra motivation for some of our guys, but it definitely won’t be a point of emphasis from my perspective.”

Florida lost its past two games by a combined six points and still is learning to execute down the stretch under Golden. The Gators are coming off a 66-63 home loss to Texas A&M on Wednesday.

“We need to be smarter basketball players,” said Florida guard Trey Bonham, who scored 21 points in the Texas A&M loss. “It was nothing Coach Golden did. He put us in position and we just made dumb decisions, fouling early and giving them points and a couple errors on the defensive end. That just comes with us getting together as a group as time goes on. We’ll get better in those situations.”

It could be an emotional return for White, who has the Bulldogs (11-3, 1-0) off to a strong start in his first season as coach. White led the Gators to four NCAA Tournament trips, including an Elite Eight in 2017, in seven seasons as coach.

Georgia is coming off a 76-64 upset of No. 22 Auburn on Wednesday.

“Off to a 1-0 start against a high-level program and high-level team in Auburn,” White said. “Obviously, our best performance of the season and hopefully something that we can build upon.”

Terry Roberts (15.0 points, 4.2 assists per game) scored a team-high 26 points and has been Georgia’s leading scorer from the point guard position.

“Considering the defensive prowess of Auburn, I thought Terry really blossomed,” White said.

Florida has won the past six meetings between the two schools, with Georgia’s most recent win coming on March 2, 2019, in Gainesville.

–Field Level Media