Florida Faces Final Regular Season Test in Athens

With tournament seeding on the line the University of Florida women’s basketball team and the Georgia Lady Bulldogs, who carry identical records into the matchup, will meet on the hardwood Sunday afternoon at Stegman Coliseum in Athens. Ga. Florida and Georgia both 15-13 and 6-9 in league play will meet for a 1:10 p.m. ET tipoff in Athens, with hopes of improving their standing in the Southeastern Conference race on its final day.

Date:Sunday, March 1
Time:1:10 p.m. ET
Matchup:Florida (15-13, 6-8) at Alabama (15-13, 6-8)
Location:Stegeman Coliseum (10,523) | Athens, Ga.
TV:SECNetwork+  with Eric Frede & Tamika Catchings (SEC Whiparound)
Live Stats: Here
Radio:WRUF ESPN 98.1 FM/850 AM  with Kyle Crooks & Brittany Davis
Game Notes:Florida | Georgia 

With Auburn’s victory at Missouri Thursday evening, Florida already knows it will not be playing on the tournament’s opening day for the first time since the 2015-16 event, but it whether it will be assigned the nine or 10 seed remains in the balance. 

UF, which has won three of its last five games, fell in its home finale this past Thursday against the No. 1 South Carolina Gamecocks. The Gators took it to the nation’s No. 1 squad, totaling 21 first quarter points, but they weren’t able to sustain it for a full 40 minutes as the visitors claimed their 22nd-straight win. Despite the loss, Florida produced several highlights including freshman Faith Dut’s career-high 10 points. Zada Williams, competing at the O’Connell Center for the final tune during the regular season, tallied 16 points on 8-of-11 shooting while freshman guard Lavender Briggs scored 15 and finished in double figures for the 24th game.

Consistent contributions from younger players like Briggs and Dut have become the norm for the Gators who lead the SEC in games played by true underclassmen. One of four freshmen, Briggs has been the headliner of the group as she’s tied for the SEC lead in freshmen scoring (14.8) and became just the eighth Florida freshmen to score 400 points.

Williams, one of the team’s three upperclassmen competing is making the most of her final strides of collegiate ball, averaging 11.9 points and 8.7 rebounds on .636 shooting over her last seven games. A career .547 shooter, Williams has been especially locked in her fifth-year of hoops, posting a 62.1 percent shooting mark through 28 games. For reference just six players in program history have shot north of 60 for an entire season (minimum 50 made field goals).

Maryland native Kiki Smith, who after just 11 double-figure scoring games a season ago has 19 in her redshirt-junior year, has also been a key cog in the Gators’ plans on both ends of the court. Smith averages 12.3 points per game, leads the team in steals and ranks second in minutes play trailing just Briggs.

Briggs paces the conference in minutes played (34.9); a freshman hasn’t led the league in minutes played dating back through the 2000-01 season.

After winning just one road game a season ago, Florida has five in 2019-20. The Gators haven’t won more than five road games since the 2015-16 season, its last NCAA Tournament appearance.

Georgia enters the matchup with an identical 15-13 (6-9 SEC) record as it preps for its senior night festivities. After splitting road contests at LSU and Kentucky, the Lady Bulldogs return to Stegeman Coliseum where they have posted a 9-8 record on the year. UGA, like Florida has battled 10 AP Top 25 foes this season, and has won three of its past five games overall. Redshirt-junior forward Jenna Staiti ranks second on the team in scoring at 11.6 points per game and leads the club in rebounding at 6.1. The Georgia native has carried the Lady Bulldogs lately, averaging a team-best 20.3 points per game over her last six games. Gabby Connally, a Preseason All-SEC selection, averages a team-high 12.6 points. Picked to finish 10th in the SEC preseason poll, UGA allows just 62.3 points per game, which ranks seventh in the conference. As a team, the Lady Bulldogs shoot 73.2 percent from the free throw line, the third-best mark in the Southeastern Conference.

Depending on Sunday’s result, Georgia can finish anywhere between 8-11 in the league standings. In her fifth season at the helm, Joni Taylor leads the Lady Bulldogs. Taylor, a graduate of the University of Alabama, had led UGA to at least 15 victories in every season and twice has won over 20 games.

UF has faced off with Georgia 75 times over the years, its second most games played against one opponent. Georgia, who has claimed the last five meetings, owns a 58-17 record all time which includes a 30-5 mark in contests played in Athens.

The teams met back on Feb. 9 in Gainesville and despite 23-15 halftime lead, UF dropped a 49-43 decision to the Lady Bulldogs. Williams finished with a double-double at 13 points and 11 rebounds but saw her playing time stifled by foul trouble.

Following Sunday’s matchup in Athens, the Gators set course for the SEC Tournament in Greenville, S.C. which is slated for March 4-8 at Bon Secours Wellness Arena.

  • The game can be streamed in its entirety on SEC Network+ and will also be featured as part of SEC Network’s Whiparound coverage.
  • For the third time in the last five years, UF concludes its regular season against Georgia. The Gators also ended their 2017-18 campaign in Athens on Feb. 25, 2018.
  • Florida is 22-23 all-time in regular season finales. A season ago it ended its regular season in style with a 78-66 win at Vanderbilt.
  • For the first time since the 2015-16 season, the Gators will receive a first round bye at the SEC Tournament. With a win against Georgia, Florida will finish ninth in the standings and with a loss, it will place 10th.
  • When UF took the court against No. 1 South Carolina it battled its 10th AP Top 25 foe, its most in a regular season since the 2001-02 campaign; UGA has also taken on 10 top 25 squads.
  • With a seven-win turnaround (8-23 in 2018-19), Florida has the fifth-largest turnaround in program history year to year and with one more victory would double its win total.

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