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No. 8 Florida starts slow but beats Georgia 64-47

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No. 8 Florida starts slow but beats Georgia 64-47

ATHENS, Ga. (AP) No. 8 Florida shook off a sluggish first half and romped past another Southeastern Conference opponent, beating Georgia 64-47 on Wednesday night behind 17 points from Scottie Wilbekin.

Florida (15-2, 5-0 SEC) trailed 27-24 at halftime, making just 1 of 9 attempts beyond the 3-point arc. But the Gators quickly turned things around after the break. Wilbeken and Mike Rosario hit consecutive 3s and forced Georgia into three straight turnovers.

The Gators led the rest of way, holding Georgia (7-11, 1-4) to only one field goal in the first 11 1-2 minutes of the second half.

Despite never leading in the first half, Florida added to its run of dominance in conference play. The Gators have won their first five SEC games by an average of nearly 25 points.

Wilbeken, who was averaging 8.3 points a game, matched his career high from a November victory over Central Florida. Kenny Boynton added 14 points, while Erik Murphy had 13.

Florida already had beaten Georgia 77-44 two weeks ago in Gainesville, but the Bulldogs were more competitive in this one, at least for a half. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope led the home team with 16 points, but no other Georgia player was in double figures.

Before a half-filled Stegeman Coliseum, the Bulldogs went right at the Gators from the opening tip, scoring the first six points and quickly building an 11-2 lead. Florida tied it a couple of times but, surprisingly, never had the lead before the break.

Georgia stayed on top with accurate shooting from beyond the arc, knocking down 6 of 11 by halftime. The Gators, by comparison, made just 1 of 9.

Caldwell-Pope finished off the half by swishing a long 3-pointer just before the buzzer, sending the Bulldogs racing off the court with the lead.

It didn't last.

Florida has won 17 of the last 20 in the series and made up for a 76-62 loss in Athens late last season. The Gators finished 8 of 20 on 3-pointers.

Georgia was coming off its first SEC win of the season, a 67-58 victory over LSU. But the Bulldogs just didn't have enough talent to knock off the Gators, having already lost non-conference games at home to Youngstown State, Southern Miss and Iona.

The Bulldogs' second-half woes were summed up by Kenny Gaines, who went up for a dunk with about 5 minutes left but didn't even clear the rim. The crowd groaned, many of them deciding that was a good time to head for home.

By the end, about the only fans left were wearing blue.

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Follow Paul Newberry on Twitter at www.twitter.com/pnewberry1963

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Chris Simms: Why Dwayne Haskins has 'Big Ben Roethlisberger-type talent'

Chris Simms: Why Dwayne Haskins has 'Big Ben Roethlisberger-type talent'

It did not take long for Dwayne Haskins to win approval from the media and the Redskins coaching staff in a short amount of time at OTAs. 

That excitement from the Redskins OTAs has reverberated across the country and made him the feature of NBC Sports' Chris Simms QB School series. There, the current NFL analyst and former NFL quarterback made big comparisons to the No. 15 overall pick Haskins to Super Bowl champion Ben Roethlisberger. 

Simms was enthralled with the skillset that Haskins possesses and his potential. Citing his arm talent and the small mechanics of the 22-year-old, Simms thinks he has all the tools to be a top-tier NFL QB.

"He reminds me a lot of a big Ben Roethlisberger with his style of football play. [Haskins] arm is special, there's no doubt about that," Simms said. 

Comparing a rookie QB to a two-time Super Bowl winning quarterback that has made six All-Pro teams is not too shabby. Roethlisberger has thrown for over 54,000 yards in his career with 363 touchdowns across his NFL career. They both wear No. 7, both played their college ball in Ohio, and both are known for their ability to hurl a football down the field. 

Some of the strong qualities of Haskins that Simms highlighted were his tight and quick arm motion, his controlled body rotation, and the accuracy down the field. At the same time, he pointed out that Haskins has a tendency to drop his elbow on passes, forcing his passes to sail high. 

"[Haskins] has Big Ben Roethlisberger-type talent and I know he's already wowed some people down there in Washington in his first few practices." 

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Neil Olshey signs extension with Trail Blazers, off the table for Wizards job

Neil Olshey signs extension with Trail Blazers, off the table for Wizards job

After Tim Connelly decided to re-join the Nuggets rather than take the Wizards' vacant front-office position, Washington has been forced back to the drawing board.

The Wizards have interviewed Thunder assistant general manager Troy Weaver, former Hawks general manager Danny Ferry and Wizards interim team president Tommy Sheppard.

In addition to those names, NBC Sports Washington's Ben Standig reported the team could have interest in Trail Blazers president of basketball operations Neil Olshey. 

That option was eliminated Friday when Olshey signed an extension to remain with Portland. 

With Connelly and Olshey off the table, there are fewer high-profile candidates left for the Wizards to consider as replacements for Ernie Grunfeld. 

Standig noted that Warriors assistant general manager Larry Harris could also draw interest from Washington. 

The franchise is running out of time to find their new front-office leader with less than a month remaining before the NBA Draft. 

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