Gameday: No. 3 Florida Gators at No. 14 Kentucky

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.

UNIFORMS

» 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!

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Kentucky upsets Florida as Gators go ice cold

What may have been an aberration entering Saturday’s game at Rupp Arena in Lexington, KY became a calling card for the No. 9/11 Florida Gators, which once again faltered down the stretch on the road and fell 61-57 to the Kentucky Wildcats.

Florida (24-6, 14-4 SEC) had a seven-point lead with under eight minutes to play but collapsed late. The Gators went scoreless over the final 7:36 of the game (0-for-11 from the field), committed five costly turnovers and allowed Kentucky (21-10, 12-6 SEC) to end the contest on an 11-0 run.

The Wildcats, meanwhile, won what head coach John Calipari termed a “one-game season” and may have put themselves back in the NCAA Tournament conversation.

UF is now just 8-48 all-time in Rupp Arena including 3-14 under head coach Billy Donovan, having not won in Lexington since Feb. 10, 2007.

The raucous Lexington crowd was in full effect at the start of the game as Kentucky scored six-straight points out of the gate and forced Donovan to call an early timeout just 48 seconds into the contest. The Wildcats concentrated on putting the ball in the paint, scoring five-straight field goals from the paint to take an early 11-2 lead.

“I was really, really annoyed to start both halves to be honest with you. I think our team knew that Kentucky was going to come in and be aggressive to start the game,” Donovan said. “We were just too loose.”

Continue Reading » Kentucky upsets Florida as Gators go ice cold

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Gameday: No. 9/11 Florida Gators at Kentucky

Location: Rupp Arena – Lexington, KY [Capacity: 23,000]
Time: 12:00 p.m. EST

TV: CBS/CBSHD (Ian Eagle, Jim Spanarkel)
SiriusXM: 91 | Radio: Gator Radio Network [Affiliates]
Online Video: CBSSports.com | Mobile Video: CBSSports app
Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter and SportsYapper app

No. 9/11 FLORIDA GATORS KENTUCKY WILDCATS
Head Coach: Billy Donovan Head Coach: John Calipari
Record: 24-5 (14-3 SEC) Record: 20-10 (11-6 SEC)
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Southeastern
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Florida -6 | O/U 132

HISTORY / STREAKS / STATS

» Kentucky is 93-34 (.732) in the all-time series with Florida though its advantage dips to 22-14 (.611) in games under Donovan’s stewardship. The Wildcats are 7-2 against the Gators under Calipari (since 2009).
» UF is 8-47 (.145) all-time in Rupp Arena including just 3-13 (.188) under Donovan, not having pulled off a victory in Lexington since Feb. 10, 2007.
» Florida is coming off winning three of its last four games while Kentucky has dropped consecutive contests and fallen in four of its last seven games.
» The Wildcats have only held one opponent (7-20 Mississippi State) under 70 points since losing center Nerlens Noel to a knee injury. The Gators are 17-0 this season when scoring at least 70 points.
» Florida is 49-5 since the beginning of the 2011-12 season when holding opponents under 71 points in a game (23-4 in 2012-13).
» Four starters from each team average double figures in scoring.
» The Gators are 4-1 against top-25 opponents this season after going 3-5 against ranked adversaries last season with all five losses coming to top-three teams.
» Florida is 0-4 this season in single-digit decisions.
» The Gators are first nationally in scoring margin (+19.6), third in scoring defense (53.0), fourth in field goal defense (.373), eighth in field goal percentage (.488), 14th in assist-turnover ratio (1.39), 15th in three-point defense (.293) and 21st in turnover margin (3.3). Florida is also sixth nationally in fouling, committing 14.0 per game.
» The Wildcats are second nationally in blocks (6.9), 14th in field goal percentage (.481) and 23rd in field goal defense (.388).

Read the rest of the Florida-Kentucky gameday preview…after the break!
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Gameday: No. 6/7 Florida vs. No. 25 Kentucky

For Casey Prather’s highlight dunk click here.

Location: Stephen C. O’Connell Center – Gainesville, FL [Capacity: 11,548]
Time: 7:00 p.m. EST

TV: ESPN/ESPNHD (Brad Nessler, Dick Vitale, Shannon Spake)
SiriusXM: 91 | Radio: Gator Radio Network [Affiliates]
Online Video: WatchESPN.com [Blackout map] | Mobile Video: WatchESPN app
Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter and SportsYapper app

No. 6/7 FLORIDA GATORS No. 25 KENTUCKY WILDCATS
Head Coach: Billy Donovan Head Coach: John Calipari
Record: 19-3 (9-1 SEC) Record: 17-6 (8-2 SEC)
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Southeastern
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Florida -10.5 | O/U 134.5

HISTORY / STREAKS / STATS

» Kentucky is 93-33 in the all-time series with Florida though its advantage dips to 22-13 in games under Donovan’s stewardship. The Wildcats are 7-1 against the Gators under Calipari (since 2009).
» Florida is undefeated at home this season (11-0), and Kentucky enters the O’Dome on a five-game winning streak (2-0 on the road).
» UF and UK will be battling for first place in the SEC standings.
» Four Gators starters are averaging double figures in scoring. The Wildcats have five players that score in double figures.
» Florida is 44-3 since the beginning of the 2011-12 season when holding opponents under 71 points in a game (18-2 in 2012-13).
» Kentucky has scored 70 or more points in eight of its last nine games.
» The Gators are 3-1 against top-25 opponents this season after going 3-5 against ranked adversaries last season with all five losses coming to top-three teams.
» Florida’s next victory will give Donovan his 15th-straight 20-win season in Gainesville.
» UF is outscoring SEC opponents by an average of +22.3 points per game.
» The Gators are first nationally in scoring margin (+21.5), fourth in scoring defense (52.7), seventh in field goal percentage (.493), eighth in field goal defense (.370), 11th in three-point shooting (8.8 per game), 14th in rebound margin (+7.8) and assist-turnover ratio (1.37), 23rd in assists (15.9) and 24th in three-point percentage (.388).
» Florida is also seventh nationally in fouling, committing 14.2 per game.
» The Wildcats are first nationally in blocked shots (7.7), 10th in field goal percentage (.488), 14th in field goal percentage defense (.378) and 16th in scoring margin (+13.6).

Read the rest of the Florida-Kentucky preview with much more after the break!
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Tough love led to improved play from Wilbekin

Florida Gators head coach Billy Donovan does not like disciplining his players. He does not find a level of enjoyment when he makes an example out of someone. Yet the tough-love approach he recently took on junior point guard Scottie Wilbekin worked as well as he could have possibly envisioned.

Wilbekin has made his mark at Florida by playing lock-down defense, taking care of the ball and remaining more concerned about helping his teammates get good shots than scoring the ball himself. However, over consecutive games against Ole Miss and Arkansas (the latter contest a big loss for UF), Wilbekin shot the ball 30 times, went just 3-of-12 from downtown and was moving away from the characteristics of his game that made him so invaluable to the Gators.

Donovan thought it was time for a wakeup call and subsequently removed him from the starting lineup on Saturday against Mississippi State.

“Scottie is having an unbelievable year. He’s played really, really well and he’s done a lot of really good things for our team. I felt like, coming out of the Arkansas game, he needed to understand there were things that he needed to do for our team,” Donovan explained on Saturday. “He had 15 shots in the game, his assists were down a little bit, he missed some plays. I kind of was on him about just making some better decisions and getting us in and out of offense in a difficult place, on the road, especially in the first half when I couldn’t help him.”

The coach made it clear that his player was not benched for an off-the-court issue or for any other purpose but also said he was not pleased with what he saw from Wilbekin in practice after he spoke to him earlier in the week.

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FOUR BITS: Jenkins, Moultrie, Fowler, Donovan

1 » Despite well-documented problems off the field (marijuana arrests) and a number of questions about his maturity (four children under the age of four supposedly by three different women), former Florida Gators cornerback Janoris Jenkins continues to be a hot name for teams looking for secondary talent in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft. The Detroit Lions have recently emerged as a team in serious contention for Jenkins’s services with the No. 23 overall pick. However, the team and its front office are undoubtedly doing their due diligence on Jenkins. According to the Detroit Free Press, the Lions met with Jenkins at the 2012 Under Armour Senior Bowl and “are expected to host him on a visit” soon. When asked about him in particular, general manager Martin Mayhew played coy: “Wouldn’t you like to know that?” he said. “Like I said, we’ve got a lot of work to do in the process, and we haven’t done it all.”

2 » Florida senior center fielder Michelle Moultrie picked up a second weekly award on Tuesday as she was named the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Week for her dominant performance the prior weekend. Moultrie went 8/11 with two home runs, three doubles, four RBIs, six runs and a stolen base as UF swept Arkansas on the road. She was also named the SEC Player of the Week on Monday for her efforts.

3 » In a question-and-answer session with ESPN, Gators five-star defensive end/Buck linebacker commitment Dante Fowler, Jr. divulged some specifics about his personality and excitement to don the orange and blue sooner than later. Fowler noted not only that he recently got some advice from junior Buck LB Ronald Powell but also that he is “actually like a big teddy bear” instead of a “big, mean person” that some think he is just because he plays football. “People might say that I’m kind of shy because I put my head down when I talk and stuff,” he said. “But I’m a big teddy bear. My favorite TV show is iCarly. I’m going to be a big teddy bear off the field, but on the field I’m all business.”

4 » USA Today has released a compiled list of the salaries of the 68 head coaches participating in the 2012 NCAA Tournament. Florida’s Billy Donovan came in No. 4 on the list in terms of total pay, earning $3.64 million for 2011-12 with a maximum bonus of $454,000. Though Donovan’s salary and bonuses are high, they are very much in-line with what Kansas’ Bill Self ($3.63M, $425K max bonus) and Michigan State’s Tom Izzo ($3.60M, $425K max bonus) bring in annually. The only men above Donovan are Kentucky’s John Calipari ($5.39M, $850K max bonus), Louisville’s Rick Pitino ($4.81M, $575K max bonus) and Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski ($4.70M). Alabama’s Anthony Grant ($1.84M, $415K max bonus) is ranked No. 18 on the list and Virginia Commonwealth’s Shaka Smart ($1.21M, $621K max bonus) checks in at No. 30.

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3/10: (4) Florida vs. (1) Kentucky post-game notes

The No. 19/22 Florida Gators dropped a 74-71 heart-breaker to the No. 1/1 Kentucky Wildcats on Saturday in the semifinals of the 2012 Southeastern Conference Tournament. Before Florida can advance to the 2012 NCAA Tournament, head coach Billy Donovan and a handful of players met with the media to discuss the loss.

FLORIDA PUTS FORTH A PRAISEWORTHY EFFORT

In what was a relatively even game offensively (both teams took 60 shots with Florida making two more than Kentucky), the final score was decided mostly by foul shooting. The Wildcats went 15-for-20 from the line while the Gators hit just two shots on their one trip to the charity stripe. Donovan was incensed at the disparity following the contest.

“I was proud of the way our guys competed today. I thought we had a two-minute stretch there where we gave up a few offensive rebounds. We had a couple turnovers that kind of allowed them to regain some momentum and take the lead,” he said. “But I really thought the difference in the game to me was the fact that we got to the free throw line two times and [in] by far the most physical game that we have played in all year. How we only got there two times is beyond me.

“That was a huge factor for us to be that close as we were with such a huge discrepancy. But we shot the ball well. I thought we moved the ball, made the extra pass. But I thought the offensive rebounding late in the second half and a few of our turnovers hurt us. But I give our guys credit. They battled and fought to get themselves back into the game to give themselves a chance.”

Donovan continued by discussing all of the things Florida was able to move past in the game – UK owning the offensive boards, UF turning the ball over at inopportune times – but remained fixated on the disparity from the free throw line.

“What we couldn’t overcome was 20 free throws to two,” he said. “And then what we couldn’t overcome was the rebounding margin, in particular the offensive rebounding. […] But when you see from our bench in the second half, Patric Young getting pushed in the back constantly, constantly, constantly, and there’s just no whistle. I mean, to me, it’s really hard to overcome 20 free throws to two.

“There’s no way in the game like that. I could see if Kentucky was playing two-three zone and didn’t touch anybody…but we were fouling them. I’m not saying that we didn’t foul them. There [were] times we fouled them. I thought Murphy, when [Terrence] Jones drove, we fouled him. I’m not saying that. But I mean, we got to the free throw line two times? I mean, we just had a hard time overcoming that. But I thought our guys battled as physically as best they could up front.”

Asked if he saw fouls that were not called, Donovan nodded his head in affirmation.

“Yeah. Patric Young’s going up on offensive rebound and he’s being pushed in the back. And we’re doing the same thing to them,” he said. “I’m not saying that we’re not doing it. We’re doing the same thing. It’s just I’ll deal with the office on it. It’s probably the best way to put it. And I’ll have a lot to say, too. And when I say that, it had nothing to do with us losing the game, so I don’t want to take anything away from Kentucky. They deserve the game. They won the game.”

Read the second half of the post-game news and notes…after the break!
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2012 SEC Tournament: (4) Florida vs. (1) Kentucky

Location: New Orleans Arena [Capacity: 18,000]
Time: 1:00 p.m. (ET)

TV: ABC/ABCHD
SiriusXM: 220/199
Online Video: ESPN3.com
Live Updates: @OnlyGators

(19) FLORIDA GATORS (1) KENTUCKY WILDCATS
Head Coach: Billy Donovan Head Coach: John Calipari
Record: 23-9 (11-6) Record: 31-1 (17-0)
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Southeastern
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Florida +9.5; O/U TBD

HISTORY and STREAKS

» Kentucky leads the all-time series against Florida 92-33, and the Gators are just 13-22 against the Wildcats since Donovan took over the team.
» Florida is 0-9 against Kentucky all-time when UK is ranked No. 1 in the country.
» UF has not lost thrice in a single season to their long-time rival since 2003-04.
» Donovan is the longest-tenured head coach in the SEC (16 years) and has five former assistants currently serving as head coaches across the country.
» Calipari is one of two coaches (Frank McGuire) to lead three different schools to No. 1 rankings; he has accomplished that feat in five total seasons.
» The Wildcats have a 23-game winning streak including a number of blowout victories.
» Florida is 36-43 all-time in 47 SEC Tournament appearances but boasts a 21-12 record since Donovan took over the program. The Gators have won three SEC Tournaments (2005-07) and finished as the runner-up five times.
» All five of the UF’s normal starters are averaging 10.0 points per game or more.
» Florida has made 10+ three-pointers in 20 of 32 games, a season-high mark under Donovan. UF has also made more treys this season (317) than any other in team history.
» Three Gators shoot better than 40 percent from beyond the arc.
» Florida has made a three in 683 consecutive games dating back to Jan. 1992.
» UF led the SEC this season in assists (14.9), assist-to-turnover ratio (1.3) and free throw percentage (.764) in conference play.
» The Gators are 18-1 (loss to Kentucky) this year when posting a positive assist-to-turnover ratio and are just 5-8 when the margin is even or negative.
» Florida is 288-37 since 1988-89 when holding opponents under 70 points and 238-38 since 1998-99 when recording 15 or more assists in a game.
» The Gators have won 20+ games for the 14th consecutive season. That mark is currently the longest active streak in the SEC and fifth-longest nationally
» Kentucky has more wins (2,083) than any other NCAA team – ever.
» The Wildcats have five players averaging double figures.
» UK is 74-1 under Calipari when holding an opponent to 67 points or fewer.
» Florida is ranked No. 1 in three-pointers (9.9 per game) nationally as of March 8. The Gators are also ranked No. 1 in the SEC in assists (14.9 per game), assist-to-turnover ratio (1.3), free-throw shooting (.764) and No. 2 in scoring offense (76.8 points).
» Kentucky is ranked No. 1 in scoring margin (19.2 points per game), field goal percentage defense (.365), blocked shots (9.0 per game) and No.9 in rebounding margin (7.4 per game) nationally as of March 8. The Wildcats are also ranked No. 1 in the SEC in scoring offense (77.7 points), field goal percentage (.490), rebounding (39.1 per game) and No. 2 in free-throw percentage (.723).

GAME NOTES

» UK is shooting 52.6 percent from the field and 51.2 percent from beyond the arc in two victories over UF this season.
» The Wildcats have held the Gators to 36.4 percent shooting (24.5 percent from three), nearly 10 percent below their season-long averages in both categories.
» Florida senior point guard Erving Walker and freshman guard Bradley Beal have struggled against Kentucky in the two match-ups. Walker is a combined 3-for-18 from the field in the two contests, while Beal is just 6-of-25 from the floor.
» The one player doing well for the Gators against the Wildcats is sophomore center Patric Young. He’s combined to go 15-for-25 in the two games for a total of 33 points including 21 in Gainesville, FL.
» Kentucky’s Anthony Davis – recently named the SEC Player of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year – has had his way with Florida when the two teams have squared off. Davis has gone 17-of-26 with 38 points, 18 rebounds and 10 blocks in the two games.
» The Gators and Wildcats are squaring off in the semifinals after both being tested mightily in second-round action. Florida defeated Alabama 66-63 just hours after Kentucky beat LSU 60-51 in the early afternoon game.

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