Gameday: Florida Gators at No. 1 Kentucky Wildcats – Unique chance for late signature win

By Adam Silverstein
March 7, 2015

Location: Rupp Arena – Lexington, Kentucky [Capacity: 23,000]
Time: 2:00 p.m. EST

TV: CBS (Ian Eagle, Doug Gottlieb)
Streaming Video: CBSSports.com | Mobile Video: CBS Sports app

SiriusXM: 91/83 | Radio: Gator Radio Network [Affiliates]

Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter

FLORIDA GATORS No. 1 KENTUCKY WILDCATS
Head Coach: Billy Donovan Head Coach: John Calipari
Record: 15-15 (8-9 SEC) Record: 30-0 (17-0 SEC)
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Southeastern

Odds: Florida +16

HISTORY, STATS AND STREAKS

» Kentucky owns the all-time series against Florida with a 95-37 record over its rival, though the Gators have been more competitive under Donovan with the Wildcats holding just a 25-17 edge.
» UF has not had much success at Rupp Arena with UK going 48-9 all-tie on its home court, 14-4 against Donovan-coached teams.
» Last season, Florida became the first team in SEC history to go 18-0 in league play during the regular season; Kentucky is looking to become the second, ending Saturday’s game at 17-0.
» The Gators are 2-11 all-time against No. 1-ranked opponents, 2-0 in the NCAA Tournament and 0-11 against the Wildcats with all 11 of those meetings coming in the regular season. UF has never beaten a No. 1-ranked team in the regular season.


» The Gators were 86-10 over the last three seasons when holding opponents under 71 points in a game; Florida is 14-11 this season when doing so.
» UF is scoring 64.4 points per game, the third-lowest average in program history (since the statistic was tracked) and worst since 1950-51 (62.7).
» Florida is shooting .436 from the field, its worst mark since 1995-96 (.426) and the second-lowest in program history.
» The Gators are hitting at a .635 clip from the free throw line, matching their worst average since 1992-93 (.635).
» UF is shooting the three at a rate (.324) that is its fourth-lowest in the 29 years the shot has been part of the game, its worst such mark since 2009-10 (.313).
» The Gators have double-digit losses for the first time since 2011-12. In the last 16 seasons, Donovan has only lost 10+ games six times (including 2014-15).
» Florida has put forward 13 different starting lineups in 30 regular-season games. Overall, 10 players have started at least one game for UF this season.
» The Gators learned to win close games last season, going 15-2 in contests decided by single digits; Florida is 7-11 in such affairs this season, 2-6 in games that have come down to two points or fewer.
» UF is on pace for 15 wins and is therefore unlikely to reach 20+ victories this season, ending a streak of 16 consecutive seasons with that many wins. Florida’s 16-straight such campaigns marks the longest streak in the SEC and fifth-longest nationally. Donovan is one of only eight coaches that have ever won 20+ games in 14+ consecutive seasons.
» With the NCAA Tournament seemingly out of the picture, UF needs to make a major run just to get into the NIT. No SEC team with fewer than 19 victories earned an NIT berth in 2013-14.
» The Gators have a record of .500 or worse during the spring semester for the first time since 1997-98.
» Donovan won his 500th career game on last Saturday and his 200th career SEC game on Tuesday. He is the second-youngest coach to hit 500 wins and only the second to do it before his 50th birthday. Donovan is also just the third coach in SEC history to win 200 league games.

INJURIES AND ABSENCES

» Active (1): Junior guard Michael Frazier II (high-ankle sprain)
» Out (3): Junior F DeVon Walker (ACL), sophomore center John Egbunu (transfer – season), freshman G Brandone Francis (academics – season)

NOTES AND QUOTES

» Donovan on how Florida could give Kentucky a tough game: “Obviously against them you have to do [start well]. You have to play a game where you can’t be inconsistent at all against them. Teams that are really, really good have a lot of different ways to beat you, and I don’t know if we have a lot of different ways to beat people. They obviously can beat people from the low post; they can beat people on the perimeter; they can beat you in terms of rim protection, shot blocking ability; they can beat you with their defense. And then the thing they do better than maybe than anyone in the country is offensive rebound. So even if they are not shooting the ball well on a particular night, they’ve got an ability to rebound the ball. So for us, we’ve got to try to play as close to our fullest potential as we possibly can and that’s going to require getting good shots on offense against them, which is hard to do. It’s going to require, defensively, battling to the best of our ability up front. You can do a great job against them defending any of their actions, but the game really starts with them when the ball goes up on the glass because of their size and length.”

» Donovan on how the struggling Gators can compete with the surging Wildcats: “In these kinds of situations, you find out more about your competitive character in games like this. I think having the best team in our league, probably every team that’s played against them can look and say, ‘OK, here is the best team, how do we fare against them?’ And although they’ve been unblemished and they’ve gone through the season undefeated, I think there’s still a lot of things to gain in terms of what you learn experience-wise and how these guys grow.”

» Donovan on whether Florida will be better due to its struggles this year: “I don’t believe because we went through this experience this year that we’re going to be any better next year. I don’t believe that. I never believe that because they have to internalize what has happened the right way, and they have to deal with it the right way, and they have to make the necessary adjustments and changes to learn and grow from it. … It’s going to be a matter of how much they actually self-reflect, how much they take in, how much they internalize what’s happened to them.”

3 Comments

  1. Ken (CA) says:

    the random autolay is very frustrating. I go to sleep without dropping this page from browser, and random times, just come up with auto play stuff.

  2. Gatoralum88 says:

    Donovan’s last quote is one of his best this year! “I don’t believe because we went through this experience this year that we’re going to be any better next year.” That’s SO true & I have always believed that! You must always wait & see.

    I’m definitely not sure about this group’s future…especially when in comes to Hill. Will he finally get “it”? Scottie found “it” last year & has kept it down under. Hill & Chiozza should spend most of their time this summer working on FT shooting & go from there. Right now, they should both be embarrassed for how pathetic they are from the FT line.

    Also, I’m not one of those with “visions on Olajuwon” when it comes to Igbunu. Sure, he started as a freshman for a really bad USF team but he’s still a “project” until we see otherwise. I will agree he’ll be a defensive upgrade over “Matador” Horford…ANYONE would be. Murphy & Robinson have shown improvement & with Frazier back they have a chance to better next year but we must wait & see. Go Gators!

  3. gatorboi352 says:

    Love that final quote from Billy. Another reason he’s elite. Losing doesn’t do anything for you from a positive stand point. It’s how you react to the losing.

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