Leading from wire-to-wire despite seeing its lead cut to one late in the contest, No. 1 Florida Gators basketball (32-2) won its 26th-straight game and captured the 2014 Southeastern Conference Tournament Championship with a 61-60 win over the Kentucky Wildcats (24-10) at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, GA.
With the victory, Florida swept the SEC titles for the first time since 2007, won its fourth SEC Tournament title and swept Kentucky 3-0 in a single season for the first time in school history. The Gators have also won 31 of their last 32 games.
OnlyGators.com breaks it all down with eight quick-hitters:
It was over when: After missing the front end of consecutive one-and-one chances with 23 seconds remaining, Florida played superb defense against Kentucky on the game’s final possession. The Gators led by one point with 14 seconds left and were able to hold off the Wildcats as James Young slipped and lost the ball after receiving a pass from Aaron Harrison in hopes of taking the game’s final shot.
Prominent players: The Gators had a different player step up in each half with sophomore guard Michael Frazier II scoring 11 of Florida’s first 12 points and senior center Patric Young lighting up in the second half with nine points of his own. The players combined to shoot 11-for-17 from the field, each finishing with 14 points and five boards. Young added three blocks.
Significant stretch: Florida led by 15 with 11:03 to play, but Kentucky finally found an answer with a 14-0 run to nearly erase the Gators’ advantage, leaving it at just one point with 6:16 to play. UF went scoreless for a stretch of 5:55 during UK’s run, ending it with a three from Frazier. Florida never lost its lead, however, with the Gators earning a wire-to-wire victory over the Wildcats.
Check out the second half of The Fastbreak…after the break.
First half focus: Frazier dominated in the early going, hitting his first four shots and starting 3-for-3 from downtown to score 11 of Florida’s first 12 points. Runs of 9-2 and 6-0 stretched UF’s lead to 35-21 with 4:41 until half, and the Gators held on to a 10-point advantage at the break.
Perfect play: Seeing his team’s advantage cut down from 15 points to just one (check out “significant stretch”), Frazier drained a three-pointer with 6:08 to play to give Florida back some of its mojo. It not did it give the Gators some confidence, the three also put out the fire that was the Wildcats offense at that time).
Standout stat: The final fouling margin only wound up being plus-three with UF committing three more than UK, but the Wildcats actually had a six-foul advantage on the Gators most of the second half until they had to foul to force Florida to the line late in the game. Kentucky made 21-of-26 free throws (.808), while the eventual champions only drained 7-of-17 (.412). Senior point guard Scottie Wilbekin uncharacteristically went 0-for-3 from the line – missing the first one-and-one front end in the waning seconds – but finished with 11 points and a team-high six assists.
What it means: The Gators won their first SEC Tournament Championship since 2007 after losing in the final in both 2011 and 2013. Florida also became the first team since 1979 to sweep Kentucky three times in a single season and the first SEC team to win 21 league games in a single season.
Next up: UF awaits its fate as Selection Sunday is about to begin but should receive the No. 1 overall seed in the 2014 NCAA Tournament. Florida will likely be placed in the South Region and play its first two games in Orlando, FL.