ATHENS, Ga. – Chandler Parsons took control in the second overtime after the teams traded tying last-second shots, leading No. 24 Florida to a 104-91 victory over Georgia on Tuesday night.
Trey Thompkins put back a missed shot just ahead of the buzzer at the end of regulation, capping the Bulldogs' rally from an eight-point deficit in the final 3 minutes. Florida (16-4, 5-1 Southeastern Conference) forced a second overtime when Erving Walker raced down the court and hit a long 3-pointer with 1 second remaining.
It was all Gators in the second overtime. They scored the first nine points of the period with Georgia (14-5, 3-3) turning it over on two straight possessions. Parsons hit a huge 3 from the corner and sent the home crowd toward the exits when he flew in for a putback that made it 96-88 with 1:40 remaining.
Parsons scored half of his 18 points in the second overtime, and had 12 rebounds. Walker and Kenny Boynton led Florida with 24 points apiece, while Vernon Macklin added 23 and did yeoman work underneath, grabbing six offensive rebounds.
Travis Leslie scored 21 points for Georgia, and Thompkins had 20 points and 13 rebounds.
The lopsided score at the end was hardly indicative of a game that was tight until the closing minutes.
Playing off the Georgia fan who does a Rocky-themed climb to the top of the stands at every game, the teams traded punches like heavyweight fighters in the first overtime. The lead changed hands a staggering eight times, the teams never more than two points apart until Jeremy Price hit two free throws with 6.7 seconds left, giving Georgia an 85-82 lead.
Walker got the inbounds pass and took off, flying down the court before he pulled up a good 5 feet behind the arc to launch the jumper. Nothing but net. Georgia didn't have time to answer, and the Gators dominated the final 5 minutes.
Florida appeared to be in control when Walker drove for a layup that put the Gators up 72-64 with 3:08 left in regulation. Turns out, there was a long way to go.
Walker missed two crucial free throws, Gerald Robinson hit a huge 3-pointer on a tough night with 22 seconds remaining, and Georgia wound up with a chance to tie on its final possession. Robinson had just seven points and turned it over six times.
It looked as though the Bulldogs wouldn't even get a final shot when Price wound up with the ball at the top of the key, looking for help. Dustin Ware finally came to get the ball, hurried toward the basket and threw up a wild left-handed shot that wasn't close.
But it ricocheted off the backboard right to Thompkins — as good as a pass. He laid it in ahead of buzzer, the ball clearly out of his hand before the red light went off.
Florida climbed back into The Associated Press rankings this week with wins over Auburn and Arkansas, but it's been an inconsistent season for the Gators. They followed big wins over Florida State, Kansas State and Tennessee with surprising losses to Central Florida, Jacksonville and South Carolina.
Maybe they're learning how to handle success, winning for the eighth time in nine games.
Georgia spent one week in the Top 25 — it first appearance since 2003 — after opening SEC play with an upset win over Kentucky. But the Bulldogs' second home loss in a week will likely keep them from getting back in, at least for now.