Location: Rupp Arena – Lexington, KY [Capacity: 23,500]
Time: 9:00 p.m. EST
TV: ESPN (Dan Shulman, Dick Vitale, Shannon Spake)
SiriusXM: 91 | Radio: Gator Radio Network [Affiliates]
Online Video: WatchESPN.com | Mobile Video: WatchESPN app
Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter
|(3) FLORIDA GATORS||(14) KENTUCKY WILDCATS|
|Head Coach: Billy Donovan||Head Coach: John Calipari|
|Record: 22-2 (11-0 SEC)||Record: 19-5 (9-2 SEC)|
|Conference: Southeastern||Conference: Southeastern|
|Roster | Schedule||Roster | Schedule|
Odds: Florida +2 | O/U: 130.5
HISTORY / STREAKS / STATS
» Kentucky leads Florida 94-34 in the all-time series with the Wildcats also holding a 24-14 mark over the Gators since Donovan took over the program. UF is 8-48 all-time on the road against UK (3-14 under Donovan) and has not won in Rupp Arena since 2007.
» Donovan is 2-8 against Calipari since he took over in Lexington.
» Calapari’s teams are 81-2 combined at home in Lexington.
» Both teams were featured on ESPN College GameDay with Florida making an appearance for the six time (five against Kentucky). UF is 4-0 on GameDay vs. UK including 1-0 in Rupp Arena.
» The Gators are currently riding a school-record 30-game home winning streak (second-longest in the nation). Florida extended a program record last Saturday by recording its 15th consecutive home win against league opponents.
» The Gators have opened league play with a 11-0 record for just the second time under Donovan, matching the school record for best SEC start set in 2007.
» Florida is on a 16-game winning streak, one victory shy of matching a school record, and has won 21 of its last 22 games dating back to Dec. 2.
» The Gators are 74-9 since the beginning of the 2011-12 season when holding an opponent under 71 points in a game.
» UF has started 22-2 through 24 games for the second time in school history. The first time the Gators achieved that mark, they won the national title (24-2,2006-07). In 2005-06, UF opened the season 20-2.
» Florida is 10-2 this season in single-digit decisions after going 0-6 in such contests during the 2012-13 campaign. UF is also 1-0 in overtime games.
» The Gators defeated top-15 teams in consecutive games for the fourth time in program history and first time ever in non-conference regular season play.
» Florida is 2-2 against ranked opponents this season with both losses coming in true road games and the victories occurring in a home contest and neutral-site game.
» Kentucky is 1-3 against ranked opponents with all three losses in such games this season coming away from its home gym.
» The Gators are 6-2 in true road games this season.
» The Wildcats are 4-3 in true road games this season but also hold a 22-game home winning streak entering Saturday night’s contest.
» Florida will wear blue at Kentucky for the first time since UF added orange threads to its uniform rotation two seasons ago.
» UK will don these throwback uniforms, which it will wear for the first time.
Read the rest of the Florida-Kentucky preview…after the break!
WHAT’S AT STAKE / PLAYER TO WATCH
The Gators will be tested on Saturday night, facing arguably their toughest test since Jan. 11 and their best opponent since Dec. 17. Florida has overcome a number of challenges this season including a variety of injuries and suspensions, but visiting Kentucky and Rupp Arena is a tough task for any team – including one of the best in the nation. Aside from bragging rights and a high national ranking, UF also has its SEC destiny at stake on Saturday. A loss would move UK within one game of its SEC East rivals (and give it the tiebreaker), while a victory would give the Gators a huge boost in percentage chance to win the league crown.
» Senior center Patric Young (#4) has long been a source of inspiration for his teammates on the defensive side of the ball, but his consistency and ability to maintain a high level of energy in games has been questioned. That has not been the case this season as Young has put himself into a different gear. Though his numbers may not be up, Young is making more of an impact than ever before. His 10.5 points and 6.4 rebounds per game are important, but his defense, leadership and extra effort – such as his career-highlight offensive rebound on Tuesday – have even more to do with Florida’s success this season.
Relying on one-and-done talent, top tier players that spend a season with the Wildcats before moving on to the NBA, Kentucky is always a young team looking for ways to click and big victories to increase its confidence and cohesion. Winners of four-straight games, the Wildcats get a chance to make a statement Saturday by taking on a Gators team that currently leads the SEC and is ranked in the top five nationally. Kentucky can pick up a victory, move within a game of the SEC lead and hold the tiebreaker over Florida, or it can fall three games back with just six to play. The Wildcats must find a way to at worst split the regular season series with the Gators, and their best chance to do so will be at home on a Saturday night with a national audience watching on ESPN.
» Freshman forward Julius Randle (#30) is easily Kentucky’s most dynamic player as well as one of the best NBA prospects in the nation. His 12 double-doubles this season are the most for any freshman, which is no surprise as he’s nearly averaging a double-double per game with 15.8 points and 9.9 boards. He also does the little things, like hit 71.3 percent of his free throws and at times show a maturity beyond his age. UK has other players that can step up and hurt UF, but Randle going off would make a Florida victory quite unlikely.
CLIMBING THE CHARTS
Young is one of four true seniors on the roster but the only one steadily inching his way up many of Florida’s all-time lists. He has played in 135 career games and will only add to his totals as the season progresses. Earlier this season, Young became just the 50th player in school history to score 1,000 career points.
1. Walter Hodge – 151
8. Erik Murphy / Lee Humphrey – 136
10. Patric Young – 135
38. Al Bonner – 1,157
39. Joakim Noah – 1,133
40. Patric Young – 1,130
1. Dwayne Schintzius – 272
6. Eugene McDowell – 150
7. Patric Young – 143
Field Goal Percentage (minimum 500 attempts)
1. Dwayne Davis – .641
4. Eugene McDowell – .597
5. Al Horford – .588
6. Patric Young – .586
Dunks (unofficial statistic)
1. Dwayne Davis – 168
4. Alex Tyus – 146
5. Patric Young – 130
5. Joakim Noah – 130
Wins at an SEC school
1. Adolph Rupp (Kentucky) – 875
2. Dale Brown (LSU) – 448
3. Billy Donovan (Florida) – 437