Florida-Georgia Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated February 24, 2012
Florida's strength all season has been its high-powered offense. With one of its best defenders out, Billy Donovan's team will need to rely even more on the backcourt scoring of Kenny Boynton, Bradley Beal and Erving Walker. The 12th-ranked Gators look to regroup following the injury to Will Yeguete and continue their dominance over struggling Georgia on Saturday in Athens. Tuesday's 63-47 win over Auburn came at a cost for Florida (22-6, 10-3 SEC) as Yeguete broke his left foot midway through the second half. Donovan said the injury likely would sideline him for the season. "Now, it's not how do you get by for a week or a couple games," Donovan said. "Now it's like, 'OK, we're dealing with this for the rest of the season.'" Losing Yeguete is a big blow for a Florida team hoping to finish with the second seed for the SEC tournament. The second-place Gators, three games back of top-ranked Kentucky, have a one-game lead over Vanderbilt with three to play. Yeguete, who has made 10 starts, is tied with Beal for the team lead in rebounds at 6.3 per game and is widely considered Donovan's most versatile defender. His 31 steals are the most of any Gators player besides Beal (37), and the 6-foot-7 Yeguete was one of only three players in Florida's regular rotation who is taller than 6-3. His absence might not hurt as much if the Gators continue to shoot like they have in their last two games. Florida has hit 56.0 percent from the field and 54.5 percent from beyond the arc (24 of 44) in beating Arkansas and Auburn by a combined 46 points. The Gators are 16-0 when shooting 46.6 percent or better. They lead the SEC in scoring at 78.3 points per game and 3-point shooting at 40.0 percent, and they've made an NCAA-best 288 shots from beyond the arc. Boynton combined for 45 points in the last two wins, and he ranks second in the conference in scoring (17.6 ppg) and 3-pointers made (95). Beal has averaged 16.3 points over the last eight games. Walker scored 31 in the win at Arkansas, and the Gators are 18-1 when he's in double figures. That all spells trouble for the Bulldogs (12-15, 3-10), who are last in the conference in scoring (61.0 ppg). They're shooting 39.2 percent from the field, third-worst of the 74 teams in BCS conferences. Florida had no trouble racing past Georgia on Jan. 10, winning 70-48 behind 17 points apiece from Boynton and Beal. The Gators have won three straight and 15 of 17 in the series. Freshman Nemanja Djurisic had 14 points in the first meeting, the only Bulldog to score more than eight. Leading scorer Gerald Robinson was held to eight points in Gainesville last month but has averaged 16.6 in seven games during February. Robinson scored 17 on 7-of-12 shooting against LSU on Wednesday, but the Bulldogs fell 61-53 for their third straight defeat. Georgia allowed the Tigers to score the game's first 10 points. "It's hard to win when you don't come as prepared to play as you need to," coach Mark Fox said. "We got off to a very poor start and we played uphill from that point forward." The Bulldogs also got off to a slow start at Florida last month, allowing the Gators to score the game's first seven points and falling behind by as much as 20 in the first half.
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