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January 10, 2012Brad Beal knew things would turn around. He's too good of a shooter to stay in a slump for very long.
Beal broke out of a four-game funk by scoring 17 points to lead No. 19 Florida to its 15th straight home win, 70-48 over Georgia on Tuesday night.
Beal was 4 of 6 from 3-point range, making more shots from behind the arc than he did in the last four games combined, and added 10 rebounds for his third double-double of the season.
"It felt good," Beal said. "I figured it was going to come sooner or later. I just played my game. I really didn't try to focus and get too involved in myself. Just let the game come to me."
Kenny Boynton also scored 17 points for the Gators (13-4, 1-1 Southeastern Conference).
Georgia (9-7, 0-2) lost to Florida for the 15th time in the last 17 meetings. The Bulldogs have dropped 10 in a row in Gainesville.
Nemanja Djurisic led Georgia with 14 points. Gerald Robinson Jr. added eight points, six rebounds and five assists.
Beal had been cold the last four games, making 30 percent of his shots and going 2 of 16 from 3-point range. Coach Billy Donovan pinned his problems on the ups and downs of being a freshman.
Donovan wanted Beal to stay confident and not let missed shots affect other parts of his game. The 6-foot-3 guard had no problems against the Bulldogs (9-7, 0-2).
Beal hit two 3s to spark a 10-2 run early that gave Florida a double-digit lead, 30-13.
"Everybody's going to go through it," Beal said. "Everybody has bad games and stuff like that. But I don't really get too involved in it or get down on myself. My teammates always have faith in me and coach as well, so I really just try to concentrate and focus on the team concept more than anything else."
Florida enjoyed a much better start than it did in recent losses at Rutgers and Tennessee.
The Gators were downright dreadful in a 67-56 loss at the Volunteers to open conference play Saturday. They scored a season low and allowed the Vols to shoot 51 percent from the field.
Donovan responded by putting his team through two grueling practices Sunday, workouts that included covers on both rims that forced players to focus on rebounding, boxing out and playing defense.
"I would have been really disappointed if we would have come out and played flat again here today," Donovan said.
The payoff came on the court. The Bulldogs missed eight of their first nine shots and finished hitting 36.4 percent from the floor.
"A lot of easy baskets early, which helped dig our hole," Georgia coach Mark Fox said. "We certainly have to credit Florida-that's a very good basketball team-but we had some chances early and we couldn't compete."
Florida dominated every aspect of the game. The Gators made 12 of their first 22 shots, got every loose ball and opened up a 20-point lead late in the first half.
Georgia trailed 56-35 midway through the second half, but used an 8-0 run to slice into the deficit. Donovan pleaded with his team to guard the 3-point line, hoping to nix the easiest means to making a comeback.
That caused some angst for Donovan, who ripped his team for giving up too many offensive rebounds (14) and too many open looks from behind the arc. Georgia finished 7 of 18 from 3-point range.
"I feel like we should have held them under 30 (points)," said center Patric Young, who had eight points and 10 boards. "If you take away the offensive rebounds, take away the open 3s and the second-chance points then it's a completely different game."
Georgia's biggest problem was at the free throw line, where the Bulldogs went 1 for 9.
"We didn't make free throws," Fox said. "If you make your free throws, you can still put yourself in a position where you're down single digits and can make some plays. And we just didn't make any of the easy plays."