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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Florida to tussle with Kentucky freshmen, Rupp

Saturday’s premier Southeastern Conference showdown will be billed as a battle of seniors and freshmen, and for good reason as the No. 3 Florida Gators start four of the former and the No. 14 Kentucky Wildcats boasted the top-ranked recruiting class heading into the 2013-14 season.

While Florida’s four seniors are the leaders for the team’s hot start (22-2, 11-0 SEC), Kentucky’s freshmen are basically all it has with the program’s record (19-5, 9-2 SEC) being a reflection of both the youngsters’ immense talent and relative inexperience.

All five of the Wildcats’ losses have come away from home with four being true road games. Three of those losses were to ranked opponents by a total of 14 points.

Gators head coach Billy Donovan is well-aware of the talented group he and his team are going up against on Saturday night.

“Probably top-to-bottom the most talented team in the country. You’re talking about every position that they’ve got on the floor there, they’ve got scoring ability, they’ve got size, they’ve got athleticism, they’ve got great length,” he said on Friday. “I think clearly from top to bottom this is maybe the most talented team in the country.”

Continue Reading » Florida to tussle with Kentucky freshmen, Rupp

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Florida Gators announce 2013 signees Hill, Walker

The Florida Gators officially announced Wednesday that two of the top high school basketball players in the country – five-stars point guard Kasey Hill (Clermont, FL) and power forward Chris Walker (Bonifay, FL) – have signed and submitted their National Letters of Intent to play for Florida beginning in the 2013-14 season.

Hill and Walker, each ranked in the top-10 nationally by all of the major recruiting services, are a huge 1-2 punch for the Gators as they look to replace at least three players who are set to leave following the 2012-13 campaign. The players are close friends and have been AAU teammates over the last few years.

“How they rank to the rest of the country, doesn’t really matter to me because there are so many things they bring to the table,” head coach Billy Donovan told Florida’s website. “Being in-state guys, I’ve had a chance to watch them grow over a three-year period and I understand what we’ll be getting. They’re athletic, with speed and quickness and competiveness. They both have a chance to have tremendous careers here.”

Walker is the first big man the Gators have signed out of high school since Florida added a trio of players, including center Patric Young, as part of its 2010 class.

“The best frontcourt players to come through here — the Horfords, Haslems, Bonners, Noahs — they could all really run,” assistant coach Matt McCall said. “And Chris Walker can really run.”

Donovan, a former point guard, is equally excited at what Hill (a former teammate of freshman guard Michael Frazier II at Montverde Academy) brings to the table as the highest-rated floor general signed by the Gators since Anthony Roberson in 2002.

“He’s just a presence on the floor. Great vision,” he said of Hill.

Most exciting for Florida fans is that Donovan and his staff are not done just yet. Though the Gators will not add another player as part of the early signing period, Florida is in the running for a trio of uncommitted five-star players including forward Jabari Parker (Chicago, IL), PF Julius Randle (Plano, TX) and C Dakari Johnson (Montverde, FL). The second National Signing Day is set for April 17, 2013.

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FOUR BITS: Noah, recruiting, Chaney, Wambach

1 » Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah, with his team up six and the clock ticking down, took a three-pointer during a game Tuesday in an effort to eclipse 100 points and earn the fans in attendance a free Big Mac. Though his team was up a comfortable margin when he took the shot, Noah received a stern talking to from head coach Tom Thibodeau and said Wednesday that he regretted the move. “You have to respect the game because you never know what can happen in a game,” he said, according to ESPNChicago.com. “I just got caught up in the moment and I was trying to get the people a Big Mac. They really wanted a Big Mac [judging by how loud the crowd was getting] and I felt like, not only did I take the shot and miss the shot, we didn’t even get the Big Mac. Next time, I won’t take that three-pointer.”

2 » The Florida Gators’ 2013 basketball recruiting class is already filled with talent – two five-stars and top-10 players to be exact – but the Gators may very well add at least one more big piece before all is said and done. UF is very much involved with four of best players left in the class in five-star forward Julius Randle (Plano, TX), five-star F Jabari Parker (Chicago, IL), five-star center Dakari Johnson (Montverde, FL) and four-star C Joel Embiid (Gainesville, FL). In fact, as far as Parker, Johnson and Embiid are concerned, Florida seems to be in a very good spot for each. Parker visited the Gators over the weekend, Johnson reclassified to the 2013 class this week and has Florida in his top five, and Embiid on Wednesday night cut his list to three with UF making the cut.

Embiid is the closest to making a decision and will do so shortly. The Gators being the local team is certainly a bonus as is the fact that Florida has junior point guard Scottie Wilbekin on the roster and is recruiting his brother 2014 PG Mitchell Wilbekin. (Both are also from The Rock School, where Embiid is attending.) UF also has a connection with Parker, who head coach Billy Donovan coached and won a gold medal with over the summer, and Johnson, who is set to play for Monteverde Academy this season, which is where five-star PG commit Kasey Hill (Clermont, FL) is currently attending.

Read the two more BITS (and an extra BIT) in this post…after the break!
Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Noah, recruiting, Chaney, Wambach

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