No. 3 Florida Gators basketball (23-2, 12-0 SEC) came through when it mattered most – late in the second half – to pull off a 69-59 victory over the No. 14 Kentucky Wildcats (19-6, 9-3 SEC) at Rupp Arena in Lexington, KY. Following the win, head coach Billy Donovan met with the media to discuss the contest and his team’s big road victory.
HISTORY, STATS AND STREAKS
» Florida beat Kentucky on the road for just the ninth time in 58 tries. Gators teams coached by Donovan are now 15-24 against the Wildcats and 4-14 in Rupp Arena, where UF won on Saturday for the first time since 2007.
» Donovan handed UK head coach John Calipari his third home loss in five seasons (81-3) and is now 3-8 overall against his SEC East rival.
» Florida is now 5-0 against Kentucky when the teams are featured on ESPN’s College GameDay (2-0 in Lexington).
» The Gators have opened SEC play 12-0, setting a program record for best start in league play.
» Florida is on a 17-game winning streak, tying a school record, and has won 21 of its last 22 games. UF has not lost since Dec. 2, 2013.
» The Gators are 75-9 since the beginning of the 2011-12 season when holding an opponent under 71 points in a game.
» UF has started 23-2 through 25 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).
» Florida has now defeated three top-15 teams this season.
» The Gators are is 3-2 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.
» Florida is 7-2 in true road games this season.
» Florida seniors forward Casey Prather and point guard Scottie Wilbekin combined to score 47 of the Gators’ 69 points (68.1 percent). Prather (24) and Wilbekin (career-high 23) also combined to score 30 of UF’s 41 second-half points (73.2 percent).
» The Gators only hit 3-of-13 three-pointers but went 2-for-4 in the second half with sophomore guard Michael Frazier II and Wilbekin connecting on UF’s last two attempts.
» Florida shot 78.6 percent from the free throw line, with Wilbekin (11-for-12) and Prather (8-for-12) doing most of the work from the charity stripe.
» Senior center Patric Young converted two And-1 opportunities in the second half, making both of his free throws on Saturday. He started 1-for-7 from the field but made three of his last four shots. Additionally, four of his five rebounds were from the offensive glass. Young passed Joakim Noah for 39th on UF’s all-time scoring list (1,140 points).
» Florida outscored Kentucky 12-3 over the final 4:14 of the game, making 7-of-9 free throws during that stretch to ice the road win.
» Wildcats sensation Julius Randle, who averages a double-double and a team-high 15.8 points per game on the season, got one again with 13 points and 13 boards. However, the Gators held him without a field goal for the final 22:02 of the game and he only scored three points on free throws in the second half.
» Kentucky G Andrew Harrison dominated the second half offensively, scoring 15 points including nine-straight over the final 13:55. However, he also fouled Wilbekin three times in the last 2:54, sending himself to the bench and Wilbekin to the line for six free throws.
» UF held UK to a season-low eight second-chance points.
» There were 12 ties and 11 lead changes in the highly-contested game.
POST-GAME NOTES AND QUOTES
» Donovan announced at the tail end of his media availability that freshman PG “Kasey Hill got banged up in the second half with a groin injury.” He did not speculate on how much time, if any, Hill would miss.
» Donovan on Wilbekin dominating the game down the stretch: “He did a really, really good job. We ran a lot of different actions. … He was able to draw some fouls; he was able to get to the free throw line. That was important. He made a couple shots. He got the ball to a couple guys that made some plays.”
» Donovan on his seniors finally winning at Rupp Arena: “I was happy for those guys. The biggest thing is they don’t get a chance to come back here and play again, that was it for them. … At the end of the day, the reality of this thing is it only counts for one win. That’s all it counts for. … They’ll probably never get the chance to play in a venue like this again.”
» Donovan on how difficult it is to win at Rupp Arena: “There’s no question this is maybe the hardest place in the country to play game-in and game-out. I think John certainly coming in here has been able to really, really build on a lot of that tradition. He’s done an amazing job in terms of how well they played at home.”
» Donovan on the Gators’ free throw shooting: “They’ve worked hard at it. We’ve been probably a team, free throw-shooting wise, that has been up-and-down. … Hopefully we can improve on that and continue to get better. It is an area we have put focus on. I would like to see those guys have some success, like they did today, because they have put effort in on their own and in practice there, trying to get better.”
» Young on the crowd being silent at the end of the game (via Yahoo! Sports): “It was eerie. All my three years before this, I couldn’t hear myself think. Seeing those fans walk out of the arena with a minute left was amazing.”
» Calipari on Florida pulling away late to pick up the victory: “They just grind it. … They were a little too experienced down the stretch for us. … Florida deserved to win the game. When they got all those rebounds late, it’s just an effort. ‘I’m going to go get this ball.’”
» Calipari on getting called for a technical foul: “You have to ask him. I just told the guy…I was speaking softy. I don’t know what he heard me say with my back to him, so you’ll have to ask him.”
» Calipari on Donovan and the Gators winning: “Take responsibility. If a guy outplayed you, admit it. A guy outplayed me.”
@ONLYGATORS TWEET OF THE GAME
Refs definitely out of position to make that call and on replay it's definitely wrong. Bad, bad call in a close game – even early.
— OnlyGators.com (@onlygators) February 16, 2014