Bulldogs blow 22-point lead in loss to Florida

Anthony Edwards scored 32. AP file photo
Anthony Edwards scored 32. AP file photo

Credit: Jeff Roberson

Credit: Jeff Roberson

Georgia wasted a 22-point lead and fell to Florida 81-75 on Wednesday night.

Freshman Anthony Edwards scored 32 points for the Bulldogs (12-10, 2-7 SEC). But he went scoreless for a 13-minute stretch while Florida was making its huge comeback.

Keyontae Johnson, Andrew Nembhard and Tre Mann carried the Gators to one of the biggest rallies in school history.

Georgia led 52-30 early in the second half before Florida put together a 34-5 run.

“It was more the defensive (end), not handling their attack game the way that we needed to,” Georgia coach Tom Crean said.

The Gators (14-8, 6-3) came alive during a 23-2 spurt fueled by Johnson and Mann. Johnson scored 11 during that stretch, and Mann added eight. They drained 3-pointers and hit shots driving to the basket.

Florida pulled ahead 69-59 with about six minutes to play, a staggering turnaround in a game that looked decided by halftime. The Bulldogs got back in it, though, whittling the lead to 73-71 with 2:55 to play.

Nembhard delivered the knockout blows, a driving layup that put the Gators up by four with 58 seconds remaining and later added a steal and layup. Nembhard tied his career high with 25 points on 10 of 16 shooting, including scoring 14 of his team's final 17 points. Johnson ended the game with 15, while Mann had 11.

Georgia shot 55% in the first half and looked like it would coast after taking a 15-point lead into the locker room. Florida coach Mike White benched three starters at the first media timeout of the second half, a move that seemed to spark the rally.

“We’re just playing soft," Johnson said. “He (White) asked us, ‘Are we scared? Why y’all come here if you’re not trying to play on the big stage?’ I took it personal.”

The Gators pulled off a similar comeback last month. They trailed Alabama by 21 in Gainesville in early January before mounting a comeback.

This one matched the largest in school history. Florida also trailed by 22 against South Carolina in 1993.

Georgia hosts Alabama on Saturday. The Bulldogs have won five of the last seven meetings.