Florida Gators vs. Georgia Bulldogs Pick & Prediction MARCH 14th 2024

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Florida stumbled down the stretch of the regular season and will look for a turnaround when it faces Georgia on Thursday night in the second round of the Southeastern Conference tournament at Nashville.

The sixth-seeded Gators (21-10) limp into the tournament after losing two of their last three games, including 79-78 vs. lowly Vanderbilt last Saturday in Nashville.

Standout forward Tyrese Samuel was highly displeased with the loss to the Commodores.

“We came out lackadaisical. We weren’t ready to play, and they were just tougher than us,” Samuel said. “It was their last home game, they really had nothing to lose, and we came in like a team that had just come off a big win (over Alabama).

“Like we thought we were just going to come in here and beat a good SEC team. The SEC is the best conference in America. Anybody can beat anybody. It showed.”

Florida will look to avoid another upset when it faces 11th-seeded Georgia (17-15). The Bulldogs scored the final 12 points of the game while recording a 64-59 win over Missouri on Wednesday night.

It will be another close-up look at his former program for Georgia coach Mike White, who is 0-4 against the Gators in two seasons since taking over in Athens. White coached Florida for seven seasons and made the NCAA Tournament four times.

“I’m going to feel really good about this one through the post-game pizza, then start stressing about that one,” White said of Florida.

“They’re really good. I mean, they’ve got a chance to make a run in the (NCAA) Tournament, in my opinion. They’ve got great guard play, really good depth, especially the front-court depth that they’ve got with skill level.”

The Bulldogs gave Florida an epic fight in Gainesville on Jan. 27 as they recovered from a 21-point deficit before falling 102-98 in overtime. The Gators also prevailed 88-82 on Feb. 17 at Georgia.

The Bulldogs were in big trouble when they trailed Missouri by seven with 3:40 to play. But the Tigers wouldn’t score again.

Justin Hill buried a 3-pointer to give Georgia a 60-59 lead with 1:29 left. Hill and Blue Cain each made two free throws down the stretch to close it out.

Cain scored 19 points and Hill added 17 off the bench. Hill said the Bulldogs were comfortable despite the late deficit.

“I feel like we’ve been in that position plenty of times this year,” Hill said. “We carried it well. We know literally win or go home. We were just going to play hard.”

Florida coach Todd Golden thought his squad might have gotten a bit full of itself after upsetting Alabama on March 5, prior to the loss to Vanderbilt.

Golden said the focus is now on not losing during this latest visit to Nashville.

“I think there’s a clear understanding of what we’re playing for,” Golden said. “We’re trying to win a championship, and it will take four really good days to do that, and obviously we have to start with a really good game on Thursday.”

The Gators, of course, didn’t find out who their opponent was until late Wednesday night.

Golden said earlier in the week that the dilemma runs both ways.

“They’re going to be preparing for their opponent, and it’ll be 11 p.m. (CT) by the time they get back to the hotel, so they’ll have a short one-day prep as well,” Golden said. “But it’s tournament time, man. I think we’ll do the best we can to prepare ourselves.”

–Field Level Media

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