The University of Florida women’s basketball team hosts Georgia Thursday, Feb. 28 in the squad’s home finale and Senior Night at Exactech Arena at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center. Tipoff is slated for 7 p.m. as the Gators and Bulldogs battle for the 74th time.
The contest will be streamed live on SEC Network+ with Kyle Crooks and Brittany Davis on the call while Tom Collett and Kelly Davis will handle the radio broadcast on ESPN 98.1 FM/850 AM.
Florida’s lone senior, Funda Nakkasoglu, will be honored and celebrated during a pre-game ceremony. In addition, the fan-favorite mechanical gator makes its final appearance of the 2018-19 season as fans have one last chance to see how long they can ride the gator in the atrium.
The Gators face a quick turnaround as they hosted No. 19 Texas A&M Monday night. Despite tying a season-high with 13 three-pointers and Nakkasoglu’s team-best 22 points, the Gators couldn’t keep pace with the nationally-ranked Aggies, who pulled out an 80-62 victory. Florida struggled to find its footing in the opening 20 minutes of play, scoring a season-low 17 first half points, but came out in the second half looking like a different team. UF knocked down its first five 3-pointers, tallied 28 third quarter points and outscored the Aggies in the second half. Danielle Rainey’s play was instrumental in UF’s positive performance in the final 20 minutes as the redshirt-sophomore exploded for 17 points in the second half alone.
UF has finished with at least 10 three-pointers in six conference tilts. UF knocked down double-digit three-pointers just three times in a total of 13 non-conference contests, but in SEC play the Gators have found their stroke, leading the SEC with 8.2 treys per game.
All six Florida wins have come at the O’Connell Center, a place where it averages 63.6 points compared to just 56.6 on the road. The Gators have drained 10 or more three-pointers in three of their last four home games.
Georgia enters the contest sporting a 17-10 overall record which includes an 8-6 mark in SEC action. The Bulldogs are in a three-way tie for fourth in the league and have posted a 3-1 record since the teams met in Athens earlier this month. Preseason First Team All-SEC section Caliya Robinson leads the club in points per game, 14.9, and rebounds per game, 8.3. The senior forward is one of the league’s best defenders as she is tied with Mississippi State’s Teaira McCowan for the SEC lead in blocks per game at 2.4 per game. Robinson isn’t Georgia’s only threat to swat a shot as the team as a whole ranks top five nationally in blocks per game. Gabby Connally and Taja Cole also average double figures for the Bulldogs and Cole’s 6.9 assists are tops in the SEC. As a team the Bulldogs average 16.3 assists per game which is the second-highest clip in the conference. Head Coach Joni Taylor, in her fourth season with the Bulldogs, has notched a 79-42 record and guided Georgia to a pair of NCAA Tournament appearances during her tenure. Taylor starred at University of Alabama from 1997-2001 and has served on three different SEC staffs (Alabama, LSU and Georgia).
Georgia leads the all-time series 56-17 and owns a 24-11 mark in games in played Gainesville. UGA has claimed six of the last eight meetings and the 73-game series is the second-most games UF has played against any one opponent.
The Gators and Bulldogs met earlier this month in Athens as Georgia earned a 93-58 victory on Feb. 10. Kiki Smith led a group of four double-figure scorers with 15 points but UF couldn’t slow down the Bulldogs who finished the game shooting 58.2 percent. Georgia is one of three teams that Florida will take on twice during SEC play. The Gators split with Alabama and fell twice to South Carolina.
Between her Utah State and Florida careers, Funda Nakkasoglu has scored 1,979 points, which is the second highest mark among active players in the SEC (trailing just Sophie Cunningham, 2,047). Her total ranks her 19th among all active NCAA I players. In her 53 game career with UF she has scored 830 points and her 15.7 points per game average is the sixth-highest in program history. Her 149 three-pointers made are the seventh most in program history and her .396 mark from three-point range is the best in program history.
Nakkasoglu scored 22 points vs. Texas A&M, marking the 11th time she has finished with at least 20 this season and the 45th time in her career. The Aussie has led the Gators in scoring in 17 games.
Following Thursday’s action, Florida will conclude its 2018-19 regular season when it travels to Vanderbilt Sunday, Match 3 to battle the Commodores in Nashville. Tipoff from Memorial Coliseum is slated for 3 p.m. ET and the game will air live nationally on the SEC Network.
- Through 27 games, Florida has drained 213 three-pointers which is the fourth-most in program history. The Gators have knocked down 200 or more three-pointers in consecutive seasons for just the second time in program history joining the 2008-09 and 2009-10 squads. UF set the program record with 249 a season ago.
- Nakkasoglu has made 73 three-pointers this season, just three shy of her total from the 2017-18 campaign. Brandi McCain (2000-01) holds the single season record with 101 but the redshirt-senior is within striking distance of second place all time which is 83 (Steffi Sorensen, 2009-10).
- Since joining the Gators at Ohio State (Dec. 16), Danielle Rainey has provided a spark. She has finished with 15 or more points in six league bouts and her 9.9 points per game average in league play is second on the team.
- Rainey has seen an uptick in her production at home where she averages 11.3 points compared to 6.9 on the road. Rainey looks for her shot more at the O’Dome, averaging 12.3 shots per game vs. 7.5 on the road.
- Against the Texas A&M on Monday, Florida exploded for 28 points in the third quarter. The Gators drained 11 of their 16 shots in the frame, including makes on their first five 3-pointers while outscoring the Aggies 28-23. Two Gators scored in double figures in the stanza alone, as Nakkasoglu added 13 and Rainey 10, in 10 minutes.
- Kiki Smith dished out six assists vs. Texas A&M, her second-highest dime total in a game this season. She leads the team in assists and has notched six or more assists in four games this season, including at UNLV when she recorded a season-high seven helpers.
- As of Feb. 25, Florida ranks 40th nationally in Strength of Schedule and has taken on nine teams ranked in the RPI’s top 50. UF has battled 17 teams that qualified for the postseason a season ago. NCAA Tournament (FSU, Mercer, Ohio State, South Carolina, Missouri, Mississippi State, Tennessee, Kentucky, Georgia, LSU, Texas A&M), WNIT (Indiana, Bethune-Cookman, Utah, UNLV, Alabama) WBI (Northeastern). Through 27 games, six of UF’s opponents are either ranked in the AP Top 25 or receiving votes.
- Florida ranks 17th nationally in three-pointers attempted (701) while ranking 42nd in three-pointers made (213). The Gators attempted 37 triples vs. Arkansas which was the second most ever shot in Florida history.
- UF’s bench is outscoring its opponent’s bench, 494-392 on the season and the Gators have held the edge in 16 games.
- Cam Newbauer worked with both the Georgia men’s and women’s basketball teams early in his career. He began as a graduate manager with the men’s team (2003-04) and later served as the program’s director of basketball operations (2005-07). Hall of Fame Coach Andy Landers welcomed Newbauer onto his women’s staff as an assistant coach from 2007-12. Newbauer married the former Sarah Millender in May of 2011 on the University of Georgia’s Herty Field.