Todd Golden: "The biggest difference was we got on the glass"

The Gators were able to survive a scare in their first game of the SEC Tournament against Georgia to advance to the quarterfinals.
Florida Gators guard Walter Clayton Jr. (1) gets the crowd excited after the Gator's win over the Alabama Crimson Tide.
Florida Gators guard Walter Clayton Jr. (1) gets the crowd excited after the Gator's win over the Alabama Crimson Tide. / Doug Engle/Ocala Star Banner / USA TODAY

The Florida Gators survived and advanced, but it was not the prettiest game for Todd Golden and his team. The Georgia Bulldogs gave the Gators a run for their money, but clutch free throws at the end of the game helped Florida send Georgia home.

"Finally stepped up and made some free throws, got some stops," head coach Todd Golden said.

Florida came out flat in the first half and even was down 37-34 going into halftime. The Bulldogs even out-rebounded the Gators 23-20 in the first half which is not something Florida is used to. In the second half though, Golden's team came out and was the team he knew showing their strength on the glass.

"The biggest difference was we got on the glass," Golden said, "that was the biggest key. We had 16 total, so 12 offensive rebounds in the second half; was the difference of the game, really"

Not only did Florida start rebounding, they were able to score more in the paint where they were comfortable, and when they didn't make shots, they got offensive rebounds and made it to the free-throw line.

Golden said his team was a little dejected and disappointed at halftime. He was happy with the initial energy but felt that halfway through the first half, his team fell into a funk. So his message to him guys was to calm down and stay the course. Make some free throws and they would be right back in the game.

Once the Gators regained the lead, they were able to fend off quite a view Bulldog runs to go ahead. However, great play by sophomore Riley Kugel helped the Gators stay in front, which included going 6 for 6 from the line toward the end of the game.

"Every single one of them [free throws] kept the game from being a one-possession game late, and the type of step-up effort that you need down the stretch to close out a game like tonight," Golden said.

It will be a quick turnaround for the Gators as prepare for a matchup against Alabama, a team that received the double-bye straight into the quarterfinals. Florida played Alabama towards the end of the regular season and beat the Crimson Tide 105-87 at home.

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