Fastbreak: No. 3 Florida pulls away from No. 14 Kentucky 69-59 for huge win in Rupp Arena

No. 3 Florida Gators basketball (23-2, 12-0 SEC) pulled away late in the second half on Saturday evening extend their lead in Southeastern Conference play and defeat the No. 14 Kentucky Wildcats (19-6, 9-3 SEC) at Rupp Arena in Lexington, KY for the first time since 2007.

The Gators won their 17th-straight game, matching a school record set during the 2006-07 season, and picked up a victory for the 22st time in their last 23 contests. Florida has also started the season 12-0 in league play and put together the second-best start to a campaign in program history (24-2, 2006-07).

OnlyGators.com breaks it down with eight quick-hitters:

It was over when: With a four-point lead and less than three minutes to play, Gators senior point guard Scottie Wilbekin made a concerted effort to drive, get fouled and take free throws. He hit 5-of-6 in that span to help increase Florida’s lead from three to 10 points and solidify the victory.

Prominent players: Wilbekin and senior forward Casey Prather combined to score 47 of UF’s 69 points (68.1 percent) and were also extremely efficient shooters on the evening. Wilbekin scored a career-high 23 points by hitting 5-of-10 shots and 11-of-12 free throws (adding three boards, two assists and a steal), and Prather posted 24 points by making 8-of-9 baskets and going 8-for-12 from the line (adding four rebounds and four steals).

Check out the second half of The Fastbreak…after the break.

Significant stretch: Florida’s 13-3 run, including two old-fashioned three-point plays by senior center Patric Young and a big three-pointer by Wilbekin, worked the Gators out of a seven-point deficit and gave them a three-point lead at 51-48 with 7:58 to play. UF never trailed again. Young, one of three Florida players to score in double-digits, notched 10 points by hitting three of his final four shots. He also grabbed a team-high five rebounds (four offensive).

First half fumble: Young had a put-back slam negated by the referees, which were out of position yet waved off the two points by calling basket interference (it was not). The basket would have tied the game at 25. Instead, UK was able to extend and complete a 10-1 run to take a half-high seven-point lead. Florida scored the last four points of the half and trailed by three at the break.

Perfect plays: With the game tied at 21 in the first half, Prather stole the ball from Jarrod Polson around midcourt and drove into the lane before executing a behind-the-back pass to redshirt sophomore F Dorian Finney-Smith, who completed the play with a dunk. Similarly, early in the second half, Wilbekin drove to the hoop after swiping the ball from James Young and completed a behind-the-back bounce pass to Prather for a layup of his own. Finney-Smith scored eight points on 4-of-10 shooting and matched Young with a team-high five boards.

Standout stat: During a close game in which they only hit 3-of-13 three-pointers, the Gators made up for their shortcomings from long-range – at the charity stripe. Florida hit 22-of-28 free throws, outscoring Kentucky with eight more made free throws.

What it means: The Gators improved to 3-2 against ranked opponents and 7-2 in true road games, winning a huge contest at Rupp Arena. UF head coach Billy Donovan beat UK’s John Calipari for just the third time in 11 tries and is now 4-14 in Lexington. Calipari lost just his third home game as the Wildcats’ head coach. The Gators also remained undefeated in SEC play, took a huge step toward the league title and extended their winning streak to match a school record with 17-straight wins.

Next up: Florida gets a break from its heavy road schedule with a home game Wednesday against Auburn. The Gators beat the Tigers 68-61 back on Jan. 18.

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12 Responses to “Fastbreak: No. 3 Florida pulls away from No. 14 Kentucky 69-59 for huge win in Rupp Arena”

  1. one says:

    This week they won at Tennessee AND Kentucky. These were 2 games many of us thought they would lose.

    Really impressed with how they played at Rupp.

    • one says:

      Also, after the Kentucky promo that was Gameday this morning, it’s nice for the focus of the game to be on how well we’re playing rather than what is going on with Kentucky’s freshmen.

  2. Ken (CA) says:

    What a gritty win. I think the best standout stat was the fact that at one stretch in the game the Gators had made 15 straight FT.

    Makes up for the huge disappointment last night when Bridget Sloan was way off her game and only managed a 9.95 on the floor!

  3. Michael Jones says:

    3 men, and I mean M-E-N, Scottie Wilbekin, Patric Young, and Casey Prather, just refused to allow us to lose tonight. This is what happens when talent meets heart, character, and toughness. The rest of the guys played well too.

    Don’t hate seeing that smirk wiped off of Kentucky’s face, either.

    Billy has done a pretty nice coaching job this year, and it started in the off season, when he decided that this team would not fold down the stretch.

    WOW. . what a game. . taped it. Can’t wait to watch it again.

    GO GATORS!!!

  4. Gatoralum88 says:

    All I can say is WOW!!! What heart! What defense! So much for UK’s “1&done” guards…Scottie was the BEST guard on the court! Let’s not forget, they were 1 second away from currently having a 23 game win streak. They may not have as much talent as the 04s but the 010s definitely have as much heart! These SENIORS are AWESOME!!! Go Gators!!!…soon to be SEC champs!

  5. Michael Jones says:

    Great job too overcoming some poor officiating. Bail-out calls on Randle and other UK players’ drives, the crappy basket interference call on Young’s stickback, and Young got fouled every time he shot in the ball in the 1st half. It takes a heck of a team and a heck of an effort to overcome all of that in Rupp Arena.

    Wow. . what a game.

  6. Gatoralum88 says:

    I’ll take Billy’s program over UK’s EVERY DAY! Vitale may go on about their “diaper dandies” & sure they’ll be NBA picks but they won’t consistently win anything. Scoreboard for SEC regular season crowns over the last 4 years (including this year which they’re now definitely going to win): It’s Billy 3 Coach Cal 1. I seriously think they now have a great shot to finish perfect in conference play. 18-0!!! Go Gators!!!

  7. TST says:

    our Seniors know Rupp . The goal , a win at Rupp . They got the ‘W’ and also the broken egos of every kittie fan there . Crowd ‘Booing’ last 20 seconds and PY laughing and dancing . Yeah ,you earned it ,enjoy it .
    I don’t fear much with this team . If someone is off his game someone else steps up! Senior Gators fought thur Ref’s ,Whining Cal and a very disrespectful crowd to ‘Steal kitties Lunch.’

  8. Daniel M. says:

    As I nervously watch the lead see-saw in these games, I just tell myself that what really matters is the last five minutes. That’s when the defensive pressure sets in and Wilbekin starts vacationing at the free throw line. It’s a knockout punch formula that just deflates the opponent. As a fan or a player it would make me crazy to be on the other end of that. Even on a night when the J’s weren’t falling it was so effective that Florida left Rupp with a 10 point win. Had Florida shot for average it would have been a blowout. Too bad we didn’t get to see Calipari squirm as he waved the white flag, not even bothering to try the useless foul on the inbound tactic.

    Regardless of the team, these kids are all competitors and they all want to win very badly. The “heart and soul” characterization of this team is so cliche. This team does embody those traits but that’s not what is at the core of these wins. The wins are the result of a tough experienced team whose players who are extremely well coached. Those are things that could very well lead this team to its third National Championship.

  9. MrMarques27 says:

    Don’t forget when Michael Frazier finally got one to go. It was his only basket of the night I believe, but it was HUGE. Great game from the seniors. Great defense by the team. Go Gators!

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