No. 3 Florida at No. 14 Kentucky post-game report: Gators continue historic run with win at Rupp

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.

Continue Reading » No. 3 Florida at No. 14 Kentucky post-game report: Gators continue historic run with win at Rupp

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Fastbreak: No. 3 Florida pulls away from No. 14 Kentucky 69-59 for huge win in Rupp Arena

No. 3 Florida Gators basketball (23-2, 12-0 SEC) pulled away late in the second half on Saturday evening extend their lead in Southeastern Conference play and defeat the No. 14 Kentucky Wildcats (19-6, 9-3 SEC) at Rupp Arena in Lexington, KY for the first time since 2007.

The Gators won their 17th-straight game, matching a school record set during the 2006-07 season, and picked up a victory for the 22st time in their last 23 contests. Florida has also started the season 12-0 in league play and put together the second-best start to a campaign in program history (24-2, 2006-07).

OnlyGators.com breaks it down with eight quick-hitters:

It was over when: With a four-point lead and less than three minutes to play, Gators senior point guard Scottie Wilbekin made a concerted effort to drive, get fouled and take free throws. He hit 5-of-6 in that span to help increase Florida’s lead from three to 10 points and solidify the victory.

Prominent players: Wilbekin and senior forward Casey Prather combined to score 47 of UF’s 69 points (68.1 percent) and were also extremely efficient shooters on the evening. Wilbekin scored a career-high 23 points by hitting 5-of-10 shots and 11-of-12 free throws (adding three boards, two assists and a steal), and Prather posted 24 points by making 8-of-9 baskets and going 8-for-12 from the line (adding four rebounds and four steals).

Check out the second half of The Fastbreak…after the break.
Continue Reading » Fastbreak: No. 3 Florida pulls away from No. 14 Kentucky 69-59 for huge win in Rupp Arena

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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!

Continue Reading » Gameday: No. 3 Florida Gators at No. 14 Kentucky

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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!
Continue Reading » Gameday: No. 9/11 Florida Gators at Kentucky

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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!
Continue Reading » Gameday: No. 6/7 Florida vs. No. 25 Kentucky

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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.

Continue Reading » Tough love led to improved play from Wilbekin

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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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