ATHENS, Ga. - Florida coach Billy Donovan says his team is a long way from comparing with the national championship squads of the last two years, but at least the Gators may have put an end to questions about their status for the NCAA tournament.
Nick Calathes made three 3-pointers in the first three minutes and scored 22 points, and Florida never trailed while beating Georgia 77-64 on Wednesday night for the Gators' 10th straight win in the series.
"We did a good job of moving the ball and my teammates found me open," Calathes said. "They did a good job spacing the floor."
Walter Hodge added another 3 less than four minutes into the game as Florida had quick success against Georgia's zone defense.
Florida (21-7 overall, 8-5 Southeastern Conference) needed the win despite already securing its 10th straight 20-win season.
The young Gators were only 2-4 in February, including three straight road losses.
"The one thing I look at is they've responded when we have played poorly, in terms of competing and playing harder, and that's really all I'm looking for," Donovan said.
"Now how much we've improved or grown up or how much better we are, it would be hard for me to say we've got it all figured out."
Calathes, a 6-foot-6 freshman, has been Donovan's most consistent newcomer. He has scored in double figures in 12 of 13 SEC games, with the only exception Florida's home game against Georgia earlier in the month.
Calathes was held to seven points in Florida's 77-67 victory over Georgia on Feb. 9 in Gainesville, but he proved in the opening minutes Wednesday night he was back in his usual SEC form as the Gators completed the season sweep of the Bulldogs.
"When you're a young player and you make three 3s in a row to open a game, it has a way of changing your disposition and your focus level," Donovan said. "We've seen these guys when we haven't shot the ball well and it looks like they're in space."
Sundiata Gaines scored 13 points and Albert Jackson had 12 for Georgia (12-14, 3-10). Georgia suffered its fourth straight loss.
Marreese Speights added 15 points and 10 rebounds and Dan Werner added 13 for UF.