GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Nicolas Claxton scored a career-high 25 points, including four in the final two minutes, and Georgia upset Florida 61-55 Saturday night to end a nine-game losing streak.
Claxton dominated the Gators inside and out, making 9 of 12 shots from the field and all five free throws. He was at his best down the stretch, hitting a driving layup and then scoring on a spinning post move the next possession.
The 6-foot-11 sophomore’s previous career best was 22 points against Illinois State in mid-November.
Jordan Harris essentially sealed the victory with a driving layup that put the Bulldogs (11-18, 2-14 Southeastern Conference) up 59-55 with 27 seconds remaining. Florida fans headed to the exits after KeVaughn Allen misfired in the lane a few seconds later.
Now, the Gators (17-12, 9-7) will wait to see how damaging the loss proves to be to their NCAA Tournament hopes.
Florida had won five in a row, including road wins against Alabama and LSU, to bolster its postseason resume. But with regular-season games remaining against LSU and Kentucky, it’s conceivable the Gators could head into Selection Sunday on a four-game losing streak.
Jalen Hudson led Florida with 13 points, the team’s only player in double figures. Andrew Nembhard spent time in the locker room because of back spasms and finishing with eight points and four assists.
The Gators were 5 of 21 from 3-point range and outscored 34-22 in the paint. Claxton did much of the damage.
Georgia had 11 turnovers in the first half, but got a grip on the ball after the break and finished with 15.
Harris finished with nine points.
Georgia: The Bulldogs’ last four losses came against teams expected to make the NCAA Tournament, and all of them were nail-biters. They had a chance to win each won — against LSU, Mississippi State, Mississippi and Auburn, but came up short. They finally closed one out against Florida.
Florida: The Gators fell to 4-7 in games decided by seven points or less, a major concern for coach Mike White.
Georgia hosts Missouri on Wednesday. It will be Senior Night for starters William Jackson, Derek Ogbeide and Christian Harrison as well as reserves E’Torrion Wilridge, Connor O’Neill and Mike Edwards.
Florida hosts LSU on Wednesday, a rematch from two weeks ago. The Gators won the first meeting and will recognize its three seniors — KeVaughn Allen, Jalen Hudson and Kevarrius Hayes — before the home finale.