ATHENS, Ga. | Losing two straight games for the first time this season, Florida coach Billy Donovan isn't about to panic.
The Gators have dropped three of four after allowing Georgia to end an 11-game losing streak, but Donovan believes his young team is taking the right approach with six Southeastern Conference games remaining.
"We didn't shoot the ball particularly well coming down the stretch," Donovan said. "But you know what? I thought we shot the ball with a lot of confidence. I thought we shot it with a lot of belief that it was going to go in."
Terrance Woodbury scored a career-high 32 points to help the Bulldogs deal a blow to Florida's hopes in the SEC's Eastern Division in an 88-86 upset victory on Saturday.
Erving Walker and Walter Hodge missed shots in the final seconds for the Gators, allowing Georgia to avoid its first 12-game stretch of consecutive defeats since 1951-52.
Woodbury scored 20 points in the first half on 7-for-7 shooting and 5-for-5 on 3-pointers.
"They kept going in, man," Woodbury said. "One would go in, and I was like, 'Cool, we're winning.' Another would go in, (and) 'Cool, we're winning.' It was just unreal. Just unreal."
Bulldogs interim coach Pete Herrmann brought in Georgia football coach Mark Richt to motivate his players in a brief talk Friday night.
"We remained poised, and the big baskets were key," Herrmann said. "It's a terrific day for Georgia and the kids on this team."
The Bulldogs (10-15, 1-9 SEC) led by 14 points three times in the first half, but Florida took its first lead with 8:03 left in the game when Ray Shipman's two free throws made it 77-76.
Florida (19-6, 6-4) missed a chance to stay even with Kentucky, a 79-63 winner Saturday at Arkansas and South Carolina, which won 75-73 at Alabama, in the SEC East.
The Gators, who snapped an 11-game winning streak against Georgia, began the game tied with the Wildcats, the Gamecocks and Tennessee atop the East.
Hodge scored a team-high 22 for Florida. Nick Calathes, who became the first Gator to have a triple-double against an SEC opponent in Florida's 26-point win over Georgia on Jan. 28, scored 16 points on 5-for-14 shooting. He also had a game-high 10 rebounds.
Herrmann assigned senior guard Corey Butler with the job of covering Calathes, a candidate for SEC player of the year.
"We wanted to be aggressive early," Herrmann said. "Nick is so good at controlling the game, and Corey got after him early, and it gave us the adrenaline we needed the rest of the game."
The Gators, now 1-4 when trailing at halftime, gave up a season-high 54 points in the first 20 minutes.
"I think our guys play very, very hard, but I think they're also understanding there's a lot more to this thing mentally in terms of how you handle those situations," Donovan said. "There's a level of discipline you have to have and a level of toughness you have to have, but that last possession, I thought we got really decent looks."
Florida's second and final lead came on Hodges' 3 from the left corner, which made it 82-80 with 6:42 remaining. The score was tied twice before Zac Swansey's layup put the Bulldogs ahead to stay, 86-84, at the 2:58 mark.
Georgia won its first game for Herrmann, who took charge of the team after Dennis Felton was fired Jan. 29.
Coming off an embarrassing 79-48 loss Wednesday at Tennessee, the Bulldogs got 11 points each from Dustin Ware and Trey Thompkins.
Florida, which starts three sophomores (Calathes, Chandler Parsons and Alex Tyus), also relies a great deal on freshmen reserves Shipman, Walker and Kenny Kadji. The Gators will try to correct their mistakes when Alabama visits Gainesville on Wednesday.
"I'm not worried about our confidence," Donovan said. "I thought our guys played really, really hard. When you have a confidence issue, you see guys being a little bit hesitant and a little bit passive, but I think our team has really remained aggressive, but they've got to understand that there's a difference between impacting (a victory) and playing well."