GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Nick Calathes stopped on his way to the locker room to sign a few scorecards for students, the only time he allowed himself to really enjoy the second triple-double of his college career.
Calathes had 20 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists, leading Florida to an 83-57 victory over Georgia on Wednesday night.
Alex Tyus had 18 points and Chandler Parsons added 12 for the Gators (18-3, 5-1 Southeastern Conference), who extended their winning streak against the Bulldogs to 11 games and handed Georgia its seventh consecutive loss this season.
“(Calathes) didn’t have many easy looks; it wasn’t like we didn’t guard him well or tough,” Georgia coach Dennis Felton said. “He’s just extremely talented. He’s a handful, especially when he’s shooting the ball well and from as deep as he can shoot it.”
Calathes, the conference’s freshman of the year last season, proved to be the toughest matchup for the Dawgs (9-11, 0-5). He drove past Georgia’s guards all night, getting open shots for himself and creating easy baskets for teammates. He got the triple-double on an fast-break pass to Parsons with 4:40 remaining.
“That’s just Nick playing,” teammate Dan Werner said. “He’s an all-around player. He’s our point guard, he’s our leader. He just finds guys. He always makes plays. ... Just call him Mr. Triple Double, I guess.”
Calathes got a standing ovation as he left the court with 4:17 remaining, but he barely acknowledged the applause. He got flooded with questions about his feat afterward, but all he wanted to do was credit teammates. His biggest smile came when he stopped to sign some autographs.
“I’ll take the win any day over a triple-double,” Calathes said. “It’s a huge accomplishment and I’m proud of doing it. My teammates, I couldn’t have done it without them. ... I guess it’s all of ours.”
It was the program’s third triple-double and the first in SEC play. Former Florida guard Corey Brewer recorded the school’s first triple-double against Jacksonville in 2005. Donovan put Brewer back on the floor in the closing minutes to accomplish the feat.
Calathes got his first one against Creighton in the second round of last year’s NIT. Calathes made this one look much easier. His 3-pointer with about 12 minutes to play gave him 15 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists and put Florida up 62-39. The only thing left for the Gators was to get Calathes the mark.
He would have had it much sooner, but the Gators missed at least four open shots on what would have given him assists. Parsons finally made it happen, getting his layup just after Tyus had a dunk and Werner sank a 3-pointer.
“If you’re running the floor with a point guard with the vision Nick has he’s going to find you,” Parsons said.
“I’m happy for him. That’s a great accomplishment to have another triple-double like that.”
Corey Butler and Howard Thompkins led Georgia with 10 points apiece.
The Bulldogs continued to struggle to score, shooting 46 percent but finished with 17 turnovers.
“They obviously overwhelmed us with their explosive scoring and by shooting the ball from the perimeter,” Felton said.
The outcome was decided long before Calathes ended his big night.
Florida closed the first half with a 20-9 run and was up 42-30 at the break. It got ugly from there. The Gators opened the second half with an 8-2 run and pulled away from there. Fans headed to the exits with 7:48 remaining, a few minutes before Calathes sealed his triple-double.
“Any time a guy gets a triple double like that, it’s always because of the people around you,” Gators coach Billy Donovan said. “There’s certain things that you’ve go to do as a player. Nick plays hard. He competes. He’s got a great drive to get better, but I do think that his ability to go in there and rebound at the guard position has always been good for our team.
“He’s unselfish. I think he’s got the ability to score, but you know what, if he didn’t have good players around him he couldn’t get assists and he couldn’t’ score because everybody would load up on him and take him out the game.”