Originally created 02/04/01

Tired Dogs relinquish lead in East

ATHENS, Ga. - The gas tank of the Georgia men's basketball team is empty.

The Bulldogs lost their second straight game Saturday, dropping an 82-71 decision to Florida before a sold-out crowd at Stegeman Coliseum.

"We've lost our zip," Georgia coach Jim Harrick said. "The zip is gone."

The 25th-ranked Bulldogs (13-9, 6-3) fell out of first place in the SEC East behind Kentucky (13-7, 6-2).

"We had a good energy and enthusiasm, and we hit the wall against Kentucky, and we really didn't have it back tonight," Harrick said. "We couldn't make open shots. We had enough chances. We got some stops defensively in the second half, but we just couldn't generate and run our offense.

"But you've got to give them credit. They played in the championship game last year. They're not chopped liver."

The 14th-ranked Gators (15-4, 5-3) appear to be regaining their championship form after opening SEC play with three losses in four games. Florida shot 58 percent from the field and 50 percent from 3-point range while posting its second straight win over a ranked opponent.

Georgia led by five early before the Gators unleashed a press that resulted in seven consecutive points. The Bulldogs would lead only once more in the entire game and trailed by nine, 42-33, at halftime.

"This was a great win for us," Florida coach Billy Donovan said. "We wanted to get the game going up and down. We got into shooting too quickly into their defense. Once we settled in and started making the extra pass we created easier shots. It helped us being able to press and force them to play both ends."

If the Bulldogs were able get the ball to the frontcourt, they appeared out of sync in the halfcourt set against the athletic Gators.

The Bulldogs turned the ball over 11 times in the first half and were credited with 16 for the game.

"We hit that wall, and the turnovers are coming back to haunt us," Georgia senior Anthony Evans said. "The press speeded up the pace of the game. We got into a fast-paced game and had turnovers and took bad shots, and they took advantage of it."

Another big difference between Saturday and when the Bulldogs defeated the Gators 75-72 in Gainesville, Fla., on Jan. 17 was the presence of Teddy Dupay, who is listed generously at 5-foot-11.

The mighty mite, who was playing in his second game after coming back from surgery to repair a herniated disc in his back, added a spark with his penetration and passing ability.

"It's no fun watching, no matter how much pain you're in," Dupay said. "The thing that's been key for me is just to think things through. So much of this game is mental, and that's what I've been leaning on, especially against two of the most physical teams in the league."

Dupay finished with three assists and 14 points in 19 minutes of play while coming up with several key baskets.

Of the five Gators to score in double figures, the biggest surprise was Major Parker. In the second half, the Bulldogs cut the lead to seven points twice.

But Parker, the senior from Fort Lauderdale, made three of four key 3-pointers and finished with 10 points - more than double his 4.5 average.

"Major Parker did the damage," Harrick said. "He was like a dagger in your arch. You can withstand Dupay, but you can't withstand Parker."

The Bulldogs now have two days off to rest their legs before beginning preparations for Wednesday's game at South Carolina.

"I should have done that last Saturday," Harrick said. "That's probably a mistake I made. I should have let them have Sunday and Monday off last week, and I didn't. (D.A.) Layne's been sick all week ... It's the little things that happen to all teams."

Evans welcomes the first respite since preseason practice.

"I still think we have a great team," Evans said. "Probably everybody on our team is mentally drained. Our legs our gone. We'll get a couple of days off and get away from basketball and relax and do some thinking about what we have to do to finish this conference season strong."


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