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Parsons' labors pay off
An 18-point effort follows an exhausting week and helps the Gators snap a skid.
By Antonya English, Times Staff Writer
Published February 10, 2008
Chandler Parsons, who ended a shooting slump, goes up over Georgia's Corey Butler and Albert Jackson in the first half.
GAINESVILLE - A three-week shooting slump led Chandler Parsons to near madness.
He was sure he could play much better, but he couldn't figure out why he wasn't. So for the past week he did nothing but practice his shooting. Over and over and over. Sometimes until 2 a.m.
In the end, he was so tired that Thursday he skipped class and practice and headed over to the infirmary. Blood tests revealed that he had a throat infection, but more important, he needed some rest.
Forgive Parsons if he thinks he knows better than the doctors. His late-night shooting efforts paid off big Saturday as he led the Gators with 18 points in a 77-67 victory over Georgia in front of 12,131 at the O'Connell Center.
"I was shooting with confidence, but my shot hasn't been falling lately," he said. "I just kept putting in extra work and before the game I came in early this morning and went 70-for-100 so I felt good coming into the game. All the extra practice I put in really paid off."
It was a much-needed victory for a Gators team that had lost the past two by 19 and 22 points.
"We wanted to win, and we almost had the mentality of win or go home," said freshman guard Jai Lucas, who had 13 points and two assists. "We had a team-only meeting after Thursday's practice and that's the mentality we said we have to have, win or go home. We have to carry that mentality just to get us focused on what we have to do."
Florida (19-5, 6-3 SEC) opened shooting 4-for-4 and led by as many as six before Georgia (11-10, 2-6) mounted a run to tie it at 30 with 3:15 remaining in the first half. But the Gators outscored Georgia 13-6 in the final three minutes, and Parsons scored 10 of the Gators' 15 to close out the half.
Leading 57-53 with 12:00 left in the game, Florida went on an 11-0 run that Georgia never recovered from.
The Bulldogs were without starting guard Billy Humphrey, who was suspended for underage drinking on Thursday. Senior guard Sundiata Gaines had 32, nine rebounds and five assists in 38 minutes.
"There were certain phases of the game where Sundiata and other players were certainly playing on fumes," Georgia coach Dennis Felton said. "That makes it awfully difficult, especially in the second half when we were defending well. Their spurts of points here and there were happening because we were fatigued."
Florida forward Dan Werner had a career-high seven steals, which also tied an O'Connell Center record, and center Marreese Speights had 10 rebounds, the sixth time this season he has had 10 or more.
Coach Billy Donovan called the game a "very good win" but reiterated his concern about his team's defense. Georgia shot 41.4 percent from the field and 42.9 percent from 3-point range.
"I just don't think we are as good as we can be defensively," Donovan said. "Whatever I'm doing or saying is not sinking in."