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Team effort lifts Florida over rival Georgia

Jan 7, 2023; Gainesville, Florida, USA; Georgia Bulldogs head coach Mike White looks on during the first half against the Florida Gators at Exactech Arena at the Stephen C. O'Connell Center. Mandatory Credit: Matt Pendleton-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Lofton led five scorers in double figures with 18 points as Florida snapped a three-game losing streak, holding off rival Georgia 82-75 in Gainesville, Fla.

Lofton made two clutch free throws with 17 seconds left to put Florida up 80-75. Then, off a Georgia miss, Lofton found Riley Kugel in transition for a breakaway dunk with 6 seconds left to finish off the game.

Will Richard added 14 points for the Gators (8-7, 1-2 SEC) with Myreon Jones scoring 13 points off the bench. Colin Castleton had a strong all-around floor game for Florida with 12 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists and 7 blocks.

Terry Roberts led Georgia (11-4, 1-1 SEC) with 25 points, with Jabri Abdur-Rahim adding 12 points and Braelen Bridges scoring 10 points. The Gators spoiled the return of Georgia coach Mike White, who coached against his former school for the first time since leaving Florida last March. White received some boos during pregame introductions.

Georgia stayed in the game by shooting 50 percent (10-20) from 3-point range but couldn’t hold off a Florida team that shot 49.2 percent from the floor.

Richard scored 12 points in the first half, helping Florida jump to a 39-34 halftime lead. The Gators rallied from down as many as 13 points in the first half, closing the half with a 21-4 run to take its five-point edge into intermission.

Georgia took an early 23-10 lead, holding Florida without a field goal during an 8:59 stretch.

Down 30-18, Florida began its comeback with a quick 6-0 run, with back-to-back baskets from Kowacie Reeves and a Jones jumper in the lane. After two free throws by Kario Oquendo put Georgia up 32-24, Florida put together another 9-0 spurt, which included a reverse layup by Reeves and a 3-pointer by Jones. Castleton then gave Florida a 33-32 lead on a driving, inside layup with 1:49 left in the half.

Roberts then hit a layup to put Georgia back up 34-33 with 1:40 left before Florida scored the last six points on baskets by Lofton, Richard and Reeves to take a 39-34 lead into halftime.

Florida shot 43.8 percent from the field in the first half while holding Georgia to 32.4 percent shooting.

–Field Level Media