2011 SEC Tournament Championship Gameday: No. 12 Florida Gators vs. No. 16 Kentucky Wildcats

Event: 2011 SEC Tournament Championship
Location: Georgia Dome – Atlanta, GA [Capacity: 26,000]
Time: 1:00 p.m. (ET)

TV: ABC/ABCHD
Online Video: ESPN3.com
Online Audio: Yahoo!
Live Updates: @OnlyGators

No. 12 FLORIDA GATORS No. 16 KENTUCKY WILDCATS
Head Coach: Billy Donovan Head Coach: John Calipari
Record: 26-6 Record: 24-8
Division: SEC East Division: SEC East
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Kentucky -2

HISTORY and STREAKS

» Kentucky leads the all-time series against Florida 89-33; the Wildcats swept the Gators last season, but the team’s split their regular season contests in 2011. Florida is 9-5 in their last 14 games against Kentucky and Donovan is 13-19 against them all-time.
» Calipari is 3-1 against Donovan as the Wildcats’ head coach.
» UF and UK have combined to win six of the past eight conference tournament titles. It is only the fourth time both are meeting in the title game, with Kentucky holding a 2-1 advantage in such match-ups.
» Since 2004, Florida has won the most SEC Tournament titles (three – 2005-07) and games (15) in the league. Among the six major conferences, UF ranks only behind Duke and Kansas since 2004 in conference tournament titles and league tournament wins.
» The Gators are 12-2 in their last six trips to the Georgia Dome (18-7 since 1992). They have won two SEC Tournaments (2005, 2007) and a NCAA title (2007) in the stadium. They have also won their last three SEC Tournament final appearances (2005-07).
» Florida has won 18 of their last 21 games (and 10 of their last 11) with 16 victories against RPI top 100 teams.
» UF enters the game having won the 2011 SEC regular season title and as a No. 1-seed in the tournament. UK is a No. 2-seed.
» The current Gators team is the fourth in school history to win 24+ regular season games. They also captured the third outright SEC title in school history (1989, 2007) and are the fifth team in school history to reach 26 wins in a season.
» Florida is 21-1 (10-0 vs. SEC) when holding an opponent under 70 points this year.
» The Gators, struggling all season from the line, are hitting 72.3 percent of their attempts from the charity stripe over the last 10 games.
» Florida is 10-2 when senior forward Chandler Parsons takes 10+ shots from the field. He has moved into the top 20 in school history in scoring (1,393 points) and is one of only two active players in Division I college basketball with over 1,300 points, 800 rebounds, 300 assists and 100 steals. He also became the sixth player in school history with 500+ career field goals after hitting four on Friday.
» Gators junior point guard Erving Walker, hitting a trio of three-pointers on Friday, moved into the top five all time in school history.
» UF has reached 20+ wins for the 13th consecutive season, the longest active streak in the SEC. The Gators have also reached 10 wins in league play for the ninth time in the last 13 years and first time since 2007 (13-3).
» Florida’s +6.2 rebound margin is the best in the SEC.
» The Gators have been averaging 50.2 points in the second half over the last four games, while shooting 61.2 percent from the field and 54.3 percent from downtown. Florida has averaged 81.5 total points over the last for games. In three of those contests, UF scored 49, 56 and 48 points, respectively, in second halves; they outscored opponents by 18.6 points in the second half in those games.
» UF is 7-1 in the SEC this year with three or fewer days to prepare for a game.
» Kentucky bests Florida in two of four major statistical categories including points per game 76.8-71.9 (23rd-87th) and rebounds per game 38.5-37.4 (23rd-58th). However, the Gators hold the advantage in and field goal percentage .463-.460 (47th-62nd) and assists per game 13.8-12.6 (102nd-181st). Florida also holds their opponents to fewer points per game 62.8-64.2, forces more turnovers 12.8-12.3 and grabs more steals 6.0-5.5. UF ranks 7th in RPI (.6395) and fifth in strength of schedule nationally compared to UK being ninth (.6383) and ninth, respectively.

LAST TIME(S) OUT

Florida and Kentucky will square off for the third time this season; the Gators defeated the Wildcats 70-68 in a thriller in Gainesville, FL on Feb. 6, but the Wildcats countered with a significant 76-68 victory in Lexington, KY on Feb. 26. In the first game, Florida fought off a late surge by Kentucky after being up a game-high 13 points with 11:50 remaining. The Gators out-scored the Wildcats 5-2 in the final two minutes of the game to hang on for the win. UK got a measure of revenge in the second game by piling it on UF late in the second half for the decisive victory.

KEEP AN EYE ON…

» Parsons…the 2011 SEC Player of the Year and a unanimous All-SEC First Team selection…who is averaging double-digit points (11.6) while leading the Gators with 7.8 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game. Parsons ranks No. 1 among active SEC players in rebounds (821), No. 3 in points (1,405) and assists (314) and No. 4 steals (125). At one point he notched three-straight double-doubles and now has seven this year.
» Walker…who was marred in a shooting slump but has rebounded and is still leading his team in scoring with 14.6 points per game while also leading the backcourt in both field goal percentage (.415) and three-point percentage (.379). Walker also tops Florida’s turnover rankings (78) and became the 47th player in school history to score 1,000 points earlier this season.
» Sophomore guard Kenny Boynton…who is arguably the Gators’ most talented player but was struggling with consistency shooting the ball. Boynton is hitting 38.2 percent from the field and 33.3 percent from beyond the arc; however, he is second in scoring with 14.3 points per game and makes a team-high 81.7 percent of his free throws. He is also shooting 89.0 percent from the line (73-of-82) in SEC play. Boynton has been stellar from the floor over the last three games, hitting 48.3 percent of his field goals (29-of-60).
» Redshirt senior center Vernon Macklin…who is shooting a team-best 57.3 percent from the floor as a starter this season with most of his buckets coming inside the paint. He averages 11.5 points and 5.7 rebounds a game while being a major presence for UF.
» Senior F Alex Tyus…who is averaging career-lows in points, rebounds and field goal percentage as a starter. Tyus became just the fifth player under Donovan to reach 500 career field goals, accomplishing the feat two weeks ago against Vanderbilt.
» Freshmen PG Scottie Wilbekin and C Patric Young…who are Florida’s primary reserves each averaging over 17 minutes per game. Wilbekin, in relief of Walker, leads UF in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.32:1), while Young averages 3.3 points and 3.6 boards.
» Kentucky G Brandon Knight…who plays a team-high 35.8 minutes as a freshman, averages 17.5 points per game and picks up nearly four rebounds and assists per contest, too. Knight and Boynton are friends who grew up and played both against each other and together in South Florida.
» Wildcats F Terrence Jones…who leads his team in rebounding with 9.0 boards per game and nearly matches Knight in points with 16.5 each contest.
» Kentucky G Doron Lamb…who has been on fire for his team since SEC Tournament play began. Lamb is averaging 13.2 points on the season but has combined to score 34 over the last two games.

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Florida basketball drops one spot in Top 25 polls

Hoping to remain undefeated for the month of February, the Florida Gators (22-6, 11-3 SEC) came close but failed in the end, defeating the Georgia Bulldogs (18-9, 7-6 SEC) 71-62 on Thursday in Gainesville, FL before falling to the No. 22 Kentucky Wildcats (20-8, 8-6 SEC) 76-68 on Saturday in Lexington, KY. Due to numerous losses in the Top 25 and Florida’s improved standing among coaches and voters, the Gators only fell one spot when the polls were released Monday afternoon.

WeekGator BaitRecordAP Top 25USA TodayNCAA RPI
Preseason--No. 10 (1,048)No. 8 (550)-
2W 77-69 vs. North Florida1-0No. 11 (995)No. 10 (535)-
3L 53-59 at No. 20 Wisconsin
W 86-56 vs. Arkansas-Little Rock
2-1No. 16 (619)No. 14 (359)-
4W 67-53 vs. Southern
W 79-59 vs. MTSU
4-1No. 15 (729)No. 13 (395)-
5W 86-60 at Jacksonville
W 67-66 vs. Florida State
6-1No. 15 (758)No. 12 (426)-
6L 64-65 at No. 12 UConn6-2No. 19 (434)No. 19 (258)-
7W 67-61 vs. No. 13 Kansas7-2No. 16 (699)No. 17 (296)-
8W 77-75 vs. Memphis
W 66-49 vs. Fresno State
9-2No. 13 (881)No. 14 (383)-
9W 76-34 vs. Savannah State10-2No. 12 (915)No. 13 (413)-
10W 67-58 vs. Richmond11-2No. 10 (1,052)No. 11 (473)12
11W 74-58 vs. South Carolina
W-OT 84-82 at Arkansas
13-2
(2-0 SEC)
No. 7
(1,205)
No. 7
(573)
8
12W 72-50 vs. Georgia
W 68-61 at Auburn
15-2
(4-0 SEC)
No. 6
(1,303)
No. 6
(639)
8
13W 68-62 at Alabama
W 67-41 vs. Tennessee
17-2
(6-0 SEC)
No. 3
(1,436)
No. 4
(694)
5
14W 62-51 at Mississippi State
W 69-36 vs. Texas A&M
19-2
(8-0 SEC)
No. 3
(1,482)
No. 4
(720)
3
15W 68-58 vs. Missouri
W 78-69 vs. Alabama
21-2
(10-0 SEC)
No. 3
(1,477)
No. 4
(711)
5
16W 67-58 at Tennessee
W 69-59 at Kentucky
23-2
(12-0 SEC)
No. 2
(1,543)
No. 2
(752)
4
17W 71-66 vs. Auburn
W 75-71 at Ole Miss
25-2
(14-0 SEC)
No. 1
(1,606)
No. 1
(791)
3
18W 57-54 at Vanderbilt
W 79-61 vs. LSU
27-2
(16-0 SEC)
No. 1
(1,606)
No. 1
(793)
3
19W 72-46 at South Carolina
W 84-65 vs. Kentucky
29-2
(18-0 SEC)
No. 1
(1,610)
No. 1
(793)
2
Post-
season
W 72-49 vs. Missouri
W 56-49 vs. Tennessee
W 61-60 vs. Kentucky
32-2
(18-0 SEC)
(3-0 SECT)
No. 1
(1,610)
No. 1
(794)
1
FinalW 67-55 vs. Albany
W 61-45 vs. Pittsburgh
W 79-68 vs. UCLA
W 62-52 vs. Dayton
L 53-63 vs. UConn
36-3
(18-0 SEC)
(3-0 SECT)
(4-1 NCAAT)
-No. 3
(735)
-

ESPN/USA TODAY
Last Week 1-25: Duke (19), Kansas (1), Ohio State (4), San Diego State (3), Texas, Pittsburgh (4), Brigham Young, Purdue, Notre Dame, Arizona, Georgetown, Wisconsin, Florida, Villanova, Connecticut, Louisville, Texas A&M, Vanderbilt, North Carolina, Syracuse, Missouri, Kentucky, Utah State, Temple, St. John’s
+ Florida received 397 voting points

This Week 1-25: Ohio State (17), Kansas (14), Brigham Young, Duke, Pittsburgh, Purdue, Notre Dame, Texas, San Diego State, Wisconsin, Louisville, Syracuse, North Carolina, Florida, St. John’s, Connecticut, Georgetown, Arizona, Villanova, Vanderbilt, Utah State, Texas A&M, Kentucky, Missouri, George Mason
+ Florida received 337 voting points

ASSOCIATED PRESS
Last Week 1-25: Duke (35), Ohio State (10), Kansas (5), Pittsburgh (12), Texas (1), San Diego State, Brigham Young (2), Purdue, Notre Dame, Arizona, Georgetown, Wisconsin, Florida, Connecticut, Villanova, Louisville, Syracuse, Vanderbilt, North Carolina, Missouri, Texas A&M, Kentucky, St. John’s, Temple, Xavier
+ Florida received 841 voting points

This Week 1-25: Ohio State (45), Kansas (14), Brigham Young (5), Duke (1), Pittsburgh, Purdue, Texas, Notre Dame, San Diego State, Wisconsin, Louisville, Syracuse, North Carolina, Florida, St. John’s, Connecticut, Georgetown, Arizona, Villanova, Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Missouri, Xavier, Texas A&M, Utah State
+ Florida received 688 voting points

Numbers in parenthesis represent first-place votes.

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Kentucky gets revenge, hands Florida 76-68 loss

A last-minute win on Feb. 6 in Gainesville, FL helped propel the No. 13 Florida Gators over the No. 22 Kentucky Wildcats in the Southeastern Conference standings. Saturday in Lexington, KY, the Wildcats (20-8, 8-6 SEC) got a measure of revenge by defeating the Gators (22-6, 11-3 SEC) 76-68 in Rupp Arena, extending their home winning streak to 33 games and earning head coach John Calipari his 500th victory.

Guard Darius Miller posted a career-high 24 points for Kentucky on 9-of-15 shooting, and the Wildcats piled it on late in the second half to pull away with a decisive victory.

A 7-0 run toward the end of the first half capped by a three-pointer by G Brandon Knight put UK up four with 5:01 to play. UF responded quickly as G Kenny Boynton scored five-straight as part of a 7-2 run to give the Gators a 27-26 lead. The teams went back-and-forth with the Wildcats pulling ahead 34-33 on a free throw by Knight.

Kentucky scored five-straight to start the second half, but an 8-2 run by Florida including two treys from Boynton tied the game at 41. That is when things fell apart for the Gators.

The Wildcats took off on a 10-2 run to go up 58-49 with 9:39 to go. Florida cut their deficit to five on a layup from senior forward Chandler Parsons, but a three from Miller and a 8-2 run gave Kentucky an 11-point lead with 4:13 remaining.

UK went up a game-high 12 points with the clock winding down. Back-to-back field goals from redshirt senior center Vernon Macklin and senior F Alex Tyus reduced the Wildcats’ lead to six with 42 seconds left, but the Gators were unable to capitalize.

Complementing Miller’s 24 points was Knight, who scored 16 while adding six assists. G Doron Lamb added 14 more for Kentucky. Fs Josh Harrellson (12) and Terrence Jones (nine) were strong on the glass, combining to grab 21 of the team’s 32 rebounds.

Boynton led the way for the UF with one of his best all-around performances this season. He scored a team-high 21 points on 7-of-13 shooting while nailing 5-of-9 three pointers and dishing four assists. Parsons was an efficient 6-for-11 from the field for 15 points to go along with eight boards and seven dimes. Macklin contributed 10 points and five rebounds, and Tyus scored nine with three offensive rebounds.

Junior point guard Erving Walker struggled all game, finishing 2-of-11 from the field (1-for-6 from downtown). He hit all five of his attempts from the charity stripe but was blocked numerous times, took a few questionable shots and turned the ball over twice.

It was a block party for the Wildcats, who rejected the Gators seven times; former Florida F Eloy Vargas blocked Walker twice in five minutes. Kentucky won the rebounding battle 32-29, coughed up four fewer turnovers (6-10) and was more disciplined defensively by committing seven fewer fouls (14-21).

Luckily for UF, SEC West leader Alabama (19-9, 11-3 SEC) simultaneously fell 68-63 to Ole Miss (18-11, 6-8 SEC) on Saturday; the teams remain tied for the conference lead and will square off in Gainesville on Tuesday at 7 p.m. The game will air live on ESPNU and marks Senior Day for the Gators.
 
 

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No. 13 Florida at No. 22 Kentucky Gameday

Location: Rupp Arena – Lexington, KY [Capacity: 23,000]
Time: 4:00 p.m. (ET)

TV: CBS/CBSHD
Online Video: CBSSports.com
Online Audio: Yahoo!
Live Updates: @OnlyGators

No. 13 FLORIDA GATORS No. 22 KENTUCKY WILDCATS
Head Coach: Billy Donovan Head Coach: John Calipari
Record: 22-5 (11-2) Record: 19-8 (7-6)
Division: SEC East Division: SEC East
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Kentucky -8

HISTORY and STREAKS

» Kentucky leads the all-time series against Florida 88-33; the Wildcats swept the Gators last season. However, Florida is 9-4 in their last 13 games against Kentucky and Donovan is 13-18 against them all-time.
» Calipari is 2-1 against Donovan as UK’s head coach.
» Florida has won 17 of its last 20 games (and 14 of their last 16) with 12 victories against RPI top 100 teams.
» The Gators are 19-1 (8-0 in SEC play) when holding an opponent under 70 points this season after limiting Georgia to 62 on Thursday.
» Florida is 7-1 in true road games this year and has a chance to notch eight true road wins for the first time ever under Donovan.
» The Wildcats have a 32-game home winning streak in Lexington (13-0 this season).
» Gators junior point guard Erving Walker, with 194 three-pointers, is sixth all-time at Florida. He is four treys away from moving into the top five.
» Florida is 9-1 when senior forward Chandler Parsons takes 10+ shots from the field. Just 11 more points Parsons will move him into the top 20 in school history in scoring.
» Defeating Tennessee two Saturdays ago, UF reached 20+ wins for the 13th consecutive season, the longest active streak in the SEC. They have also reached 10 wins in league play for the ninth time in the last 13 years and first time since 2007 (13-3).
» A win Saturday would give Florida six-straight victories against SEC opponents for the first time since 2007 (11).
» The Gators, struggling all season from the line, are hitting 73.2 percent of their attempts from the charity stripe over the last five games.
» Kentucky bests Florida in three of four major statistical categories including points per game 77.7-70.9 (20th-121st), rebounds per game 38.7-38.0 (23rd-44th) and field goal percentage .463-.57 (51st-77th). However, the Gators dish more assists per contest 13.6-13.0 (124th-167th) than the Wildcats and hold their opponents to fewer points per game 61.7-64.3. UF ranks 10th in RPI (.6438) and sixth in strength of schedule nationally compared to UK being 13th (.6334) and 11th, respectively.

LAST TIME OUT…

Florida and Kentucky will square off for the second time this season; the Gators defeated the Wildcats 70-68 in Gainesville, FL on Feb. 6. Florida fought off a late surge by Kentucky after being up a game-high 13 points with 11:50 remaining. The Gators out-scored the Wildcats 5-2 in the final two minutes of the game to hang on for the win.

KEEP AN EYE ON…

» Parsons…who is back to averaging double-digit points (11.0) while leading the Gators with 7.7 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game. Parsons ranks No. 1 among active SEC players in rebounds (775), No. 3 in points (1,330) and No. 4 in assists (295) and steals (119). At one point he notched three-straight double-doubles and now has six this year.
» Walker…who is leading his team in scoring with 14.8 points per game and leading the backcourt in both field goal percentage (.424) and three-point percentage (.383). Walker also leads Florida in turnovers (67) and became the 47th player in school history to score 1,000 points earlier this season.
» Redshirt senior center Vernon Macklin…who is shooting a team-best 57.2 percent from the floor this season with most of his buckets coming inside the paint. He averages 11.3 points and 6.0 rebounds a game while being a major presence for UF.
» Sophomore guard Kenny Boynton…who is arguably the Gators’ most talented player but is struggling with consistency shooting the ball. Boynton is only hitting 36.3 percent from the field and 29.8 percent from beyond the arc; however, he is second in scoring with 13.3 points per game and makes a team-high 83.1 percent of his free throws. He is also shooting 90.2 percent from the line (46-of-51) in SEC play.
» Senior F Alex Tyus…who is averaging career-lows in points, rebounds and field goal percentage as a starter. Tyus became just the fifth player under Donovan to reach 500 career field goals, accomplishing the feat two weeks ago against Vanderbilt.
» Freshmen PG Scottie Wilbekin and C Patric Young…who are Florida’s primary reserves each averaging over 17 minutes per game. Wilbekin, in relief of Walker, leads UF in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.25:1), while Young averages 3.3 points and 3.4 boards.
» Kentucky G Brandon Knight…who plays a team-high 35.3 minutes as a freshman, averages 17.7 points per game and picks up nearly four rebounds and assists per contest, too. Knight and Boynton are friends who grew up and played both against each other and together in South Florida.
» Wildcats F Terrence Jones…who leads his team in rebounding with 9.1 boards per game and nearly matches Knight in points with 17.6 per contest.
 

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Pair of Top 25 wins vaults Gators in latest polls

Following back-to-back home victories against Top 25 opponents in the then-No. 24 Vanderbilt Commodores and then-No. 11 Kentucky Wildcats, the Florida Gators (18-5, 7-2 SEC) not only took a slightly larger lead in the Southeastern Conference East division, they also found more respect from voters in the latest ESPN/USA Today coaches’ and Associated Press polls released on Monday.

WeekGator BaitRecordAP Top 25USA TodayNCAA RPI
Preseason--No. 10 (1,048)No. 8 (550)-
2W 77-69 vs. North Florida1-0No. 11 (995)No. 10 (535)-
3L 53-59 at No. 20 Wisconsin
W 86-56 vs. Arkansas-Little Rock
2-1No. 16 (619)No. 14 (359)-
4W 67-53 vs. Southern
W 79-59 vs. MTSU
4-1No. 15 (729)No. 13 (395)-
5W 86-60 at Jacksonville
W 67-66 vs. Florida State
6-1No. 15 (758)No. 12 (426)-
6L 64-65 at No. 12 UConn6-2No. 19 (434)No. 19 (258)-
7W 67-61 vs. No. 13 Kansas7-2No. 16 (699)No. 17 (296)-
8W 77-75 vs. Memphis
W 66-49 vs. Fresno State
9-2No. 13 (881)No. 14 (383)-
9W 76-34 vs. Savannah State10-2No. 12 (915)No. 13 (413)-
10W 67-58 vs. Richmond11-2No. 10 (1,052)No. 11 (473)12
11W 74-58 vs. South Carolina
W-OT 84-82 at Arkansas
13-2
(2-0 SEC)
No. 7
(1,205)
No. 7
(573)
8
12W 72-50 vs. Georgia
W 68-61 at Auburn
15-2
(4-0 SEC)
No. 6
(1,303)
No. 6
(639)
8
13W 68-62 at Alabama
W 67-41 vs. Tennessee
17-2
(6-0 SEC)
No. 3
(1,436)
No. 4
(694)
5
14W 62-51 at Mississippi State
W 69-36 vs. Texas A&M
19-2
(8-0 SEC)
No. 3
(1,482)
No. 4
(720)
3
15W 68-58 vs. Missouri
W 78-69 vs. Alabama
21-2
(10-0 SEC)
No. 3
(1,477)
No. 4
(711)
5
16W 67-58 at Tennessee
W 69-59 at Kentucky
23-2
(12-0 SEC)
No. 2
(1,543)
No. 2
(752)
4
17W 71-66 vs. Auburn
W 75-71 at Ole Miss
25-2
(14-0 SEC)
No. 1
(1,606)
No. 1
(791)
3
18W 57-54 at Vanderbilt
W 79-61 vs. LSU
27-2
(16-0 SEC)
No. 1
(1,606)
No. 1
(793)
3
19W 72-46 at South Carolina
W 84-65 vs. Kentucky
29-2
(18-0 SEC)
No. 1
(1,610)
No. 1
(793)
2
Post-
season
W 72-49 vs. Missouri
W 56-49 vs. Tennessee
W 61-60 vs. Kentucky
32-2
(18-0 SEC)
(3-0 SECT)
No. 1
(1,610)
No. 1
(794)
1
FinalW 67-55 vs. Albany
W 61-45 vs. Pittsburgh
W 79-68 vs. UCLA
W 62-52 vs. Dayton
L 53-63 vs. UConn
36-3
(18-0 SEC)
(3-0 SECT)
(4-1 NCAAT)
-No. 3
(735)
-

ESPN/USA TODAY
Last Week 1-25: Ohio State (31*), Kansas, Texas, Pittsburgh, Duke, San Diego State, Connecticut, Notre Dame, Brigham Young, Purdue, Kentucky, Villanova, Louisville, Georgetown, Missouri, Texas A&M, Syracuse, Wisconsin, Washington, Minnesota, Utah State, Arizona, Florida, Illinois, Vanderbilt
+ Florida received 51 voting points

This Week 1-25: Ohio State (31*), Kansas, Texas, Pittsburgh, Duke, San Diego State, Notre Dame, Brigham Young, Connecticut, Villanova, Georgetown, Purdue, Syracuse, Wisconsin, Louisville, Arizona, Utah State, Kentucky, Florida, Missouri, North Carolina, Texas A&M, Saint Mary’s, Vanderbilt, Minnesota
+ Florida received 243 voting points

ASSOCIATED PRESS
Last Week 1-25: Ohio State (65), Kansas, Texas, Pittsburgh, Duke, Connecticut, San Diego State, Brigham Young, Notre Dame, Kentucky, Purdue, Villanova, Georgetown, Missouri, Louisville, Texas A&M, Syracuse, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Washington, Arizona, Utah State, North Carolina, Vanderbilt, West Virginia
+ Florida received 80 voting points, good for 27th overall

This Week 1-25: Ohio State (65), Kansas, Texas, Pittsburgh, Duke, San Diego State, Brigham Young, Notre Dame, Villanova, Connecticut, Georgetown, Syracuse, Wisconsin, Purdue, Arizona, Louisville, Florida, Kentucky, Missouri, North Carolina, Utah State, Texas A&M, Vanderbilt, Temple, West Virginia
+ Florida received 534 voting points

* Numbers represent first-place votes.

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2/5: Parsons leads resilient, battle-tested team

No. 23 Florida Gators (18-5, 7-2 SEC) head basketball coach Billy Donovan likes to talk – and we like to listen – which is why we have compiled some of the most important news, notes and quotes following his press availability after Saturday’s hard-fought 70-68 win against the No. 1 Kentucky Wildcats (16-6, 4-4 SEC), Florida’s second win against a top 25 opponent in one week.

WELCOME TO THE CHANDLER PARSONS SHOW II

Florida played quite well as a team Saturday, but if you had to pick a most valuable player down the stretch it would be no one else than senior forward Chandler Parsons. Notching his fifth double-double of the year while leading his team in points (17), rebounds (12) and assists (five), Parsons also hit a clutch free throw at the end of the game (though he did miss another). He won the SEC Player of the Week award on Monday after scoring 35 points and grabbing 23 boards while posting back-to-back double-doubles this week.

“The one guy I thought offensively was really, really good was Chandler Parsons. He had an incredible game. Kenny Boynton gave us great points in production early in the game in the first half, but Chandler was really a complete game,” Donovan said. “I don’t know since I’ve been here if I’ve ever played a guy 20 minutes in the second half. That may be the first time I’ve done that. I wanted to rest him, I wanted to try to get him out of the game, but he was doing too many things. Defensive rebounding, starting the break… I felt like I needed him to facilitate offense against their zone. He was offensive rebounding. He really had a complete game all the way through.”

Donovan continued heaping the praise on Parsons.

“Visually, the greatest growth I’ve ever seen from a player that I’ve coached here at Florida since Joakim Noah,” he said. “[Noah went] from a total enigma – ‘Who is this guy? He plays eight minutes a game.’ – to potentially being the first player taken in the NBA Draft, winning a National Championship and being the finals MVP. Visually, you can see that. Chandler has made the same kind of jumps and steps in terms of understanding what this all is about.

“He came in with a very poor understanding of competition, work ethic, all that goes into this. Where he was from the first day he arrived on campus to where he is now is as great of a jump I’ve seen from a guy in terms of just changing in every possible way. I’m really, really proud of him because he had some stretches there earlier in the year where he really wasn’t shooting the ball well. He knocked down two free throws against Vanderbilt at a crucial time; he made one out of two tonight – I know he was 3-for-6. There’s a presence there with him where he, as a player, is giving me, as a coach, a confidence of him being very reliable.”

WILBEKIN, TYUS SPLIT THE HALVES (After the break…)
Continue Reading » 2/5: Parsons leads resilient, battle-tested team

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Florida holds on to top Kentucky 70-68 in thriller

With ESPN College GameDay in town and an opportunity to set themselves apart from the pack in the Southeastern Conference’s Eastern division, the No. 23 Florida Gators (18-5, 7-2 SEC) fought off a late surge by the No. 11 Kentucky Wildcats (16-6, 4-4 SEC) to prevail 70-68 over their divisional rival on Saturday evening at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, FL.

Up a game-high 13 points with 11:50 remaining in the contest, Florida allowed Kentucky fight back and re-take the lead with a 17-3 run over the course of six minutes. However, the Gators would hang in there and out-score the Wildcats 5-2 over the final two minutes of the game to come away with the win.

Florida senior forward Chandler Parsons registered team-highs in points (17), rebounds (12) and assists (five) for his fifth double-double of the season and the 12th of his career. He has now grabbed 10 or more boards in five-straight games and posed a double-double in back-to-back contests as well as three of the last five.

Kentucky scored the first six points of the game before redshirt senior center Vernon Macklin posted five straight to cut Florida’s deficit to one. The Gators took the lead three times in the first half, going into the locker rooms up 34-32 even though Wildcats guard Jon Hood hit a buzzer-beating jumper to end the opening period.

UF started the second half with a 7-0 run to go up nine and an 8-0 run to take their game-high 13-point lead, 55-42. UK answered in kind with their explosive 17-3 run to jump ahead 59-58 with 5:43 remaining in the contest.

The teams traded leads from that point forward with two free throws by Kentucky G Brandon Knight giving his team a 66-65 advantage with 2:05 left. After two free throws by Florida junior point guard Erving Walker, senior F Alex Tyus took over.

Tyus played great defense on Wildcats F Terrence Jones to force a missed jumper, grabbed the rebound and hit a nice jump hook from the baseline on the alternating possession to put the Gators ahead 69-66 with 1:13 to go. Jones responded with a power drive and dunk to make it a one-point game with 43 seconds remaining.

With Macklin on the bench and freshman C Patric Young in for free throw purposes, Parsons was the worst shooter on the court from the charity stripe. Walker worked the clock down before eventually passing to Parsons, who was purposely fouled with 12.7 seconds remaining. He missed the first shot but hit his second attempt from the line, putting Florida ahead two.

Kentucky immediately drove the court, but Knight missed an open three to end the game.

With a school-record 12,663 fans looking on in the O’Dome, the Gators defeated the Wildcats for the ninth time in their last 13 meetings. Florida improved to 15-1 when holding an opponent under 70 points this season and has now won 13 of its last 16 games with 10 victories against RPI top 100 teams.

Struggling from the line this year, UF shot 81.8 percent from the charity stripe. Macklin, the Gators’ worst free throw shooter, was a perfect 3-for-3 from the line and finished with 11 points. After being shut out in the first half, Tyus scored all eight of his points in the second and added four rebounds and two blocks.

Florida’s backcourt of Walker and Boynton both struggled from the field. Walker was 1-for-9 from the floor but 6-for-6 from the line, and Boynton was 4-for-12 from the field and 3-for-3 from the charity stripe; each was 1-for-6 from downtown.

Knight posted a game-high 24 points for Kentucky and hit all four of his three-pointers before missing the potential game-winner. Jones added 18 points and seven rebounds.

The Gators out-rebounded the Wildcats 28-27, dished one more dime, coughed up two fewer turnovers and committed eight less fouls. It is the sixth-straight game Florida has hit the boards harder than their opponent.

Now having defeated their second-straight top 25 team inside a week, UF has three days off before traveling to Columbia, SC to face South Carolina on Wednesday at 8 p.m. The game will air live on SEC Network; check your local listings for availability.

Photo Credit: Phil Sandlin/Associated Press

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No. 23 Florida vs. No. 11 Kentucky Gameday

Location: Stephen C. O’Connell Center – Gainesville, FL [Capacity: 12,000]
Time: 9:00 p.m. (ET)

TV: ESPN/ESPNHD
Online Video: ESPN3.com
Online Audio: Yahoo!
Live Updates: @OnlyGators

No. 23 FLORIDA GATORS No. 11 KENTUCKY WILDCATS
Head Coach: Billy Donovan Head Coach: John Calipari
Record: 17-5 (6-2) Record: 16-5 (4-3)
Division: SEC East Division: SEC East
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Kentucky -1; O/U 134

HISTORY and STREAKS

» Kentucky leads the all-time series against Florida 88-32; the Wildcats swept the Gators last season. However, Florida is 8-4 in their last 12 games against Kentucky and is 8-6 when facing them at home under Donovan.
» Calipari is 2-0 against Donovan as UK’s head coach.
» The Gators have won 12 of its last 15 games with nine victories against RPI top 100 teams. Florida is 10-3 at home this season (3-1 against the SEC).
» UF is 3-1 in overtime this season, 3-0 in SEC games that go to overtime and 7-3 this year in games decided by six points or less (4-0 against SEC opponents). Their four overtime games tie a single-season school record (1978-79).
» Florida improved to 14-1 when holding opponents under 70 points this season after holding No. 24 Vanderbilt to 61 points on Tuesday.
» The Gators have out-rebounded their last five opponents by +8.0 rebounds per game and have averaged 15.4 offensive rebounds per game in that same time frame.
» The Wildcats are winning their games by a SEC-high 15.1 points per contest. Kentucky is also the best-shooting team in the conference from beyond the arc, connecting on almost 40 percent of their attempts.
» Kentucky bests Florida in three of four major statistical categories including points per game 77.5-71.1 (29th-123rd), rebounds per game 39.5-39.2 (23rd-26th) and field goal percentage .459-.454 (77th-104th). However, The Gators dish one more assist per contest 14-13 (107th-175th) than the Wildcats and hold their opponents to fewer points per game 61.6-62.4. UK ranks 10th in RPI (.6488) and 13th in strength of schedule nationally compared to UF being 17th (.6316) and seventh, respectively.

KEEP AN EYE ON…

» Junior point guard Erving Walker…who is leading his team in scoring with 14.5 points per game and leading the backcourt in both field goal percentage (.425) and three-point percentage (.383). Walker also leads the Gators in turnovers (57) and became the 47th player in school history to score 1,000 points earlier this season.
» Senior forward Chandler Parsons…who is back to averaging double-digit points (10.7) while leading the Gators with 7.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game. Parsons ranks No. 1 among active SEC players in rebounds (741), No. 3 in points (1,280) and No. 4 in assists (279) and steals (117).
» Redshirt senior center Vernon Macklin…who is shooting a team-best 57.8 percent as a starter this season with most of his buckets coming inside the paint. He averages 11.1 points and 6.3 rebounds a game while being a major presence for Florida.
» Sophomore guard Kenny Boynton…who is arguably UF’s most talented player but is struggling with consistency in his field goal percentage. Boynton is only shooting 35.7 percent from the field and 30.2 percent from beyond the arc; however, he is second on the team in scoring with 13.0 points per game and hits 82.5 percent of his free throws.
» Senior F Alex Tyus…who is averaging career-lows in points, rebounds and field goal percentage as a starter. Tyus became just the fifth player under Donovan to reach 500 career field goals, accomplishing the feat Tuesday against Vanderbilt.
» Freshmen PG Scottie Wilbekin and C Patric Young…who are the Gators primary reserves each averaging 17.1. Wilbekin, in relief of Walker, leads Florida in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.5:1), while Young averages 3.4 points and 3.4 boards off the bench.
» Kentucky G Brandon Knight…who plays a team-high 35.0 minutes as a freshman, averages 17.2 points per game and picks up nearly four rebounds and assists per contest, too. Knight and Boynton are friends who grew up and played both against each other and together in South Florida.
» Wildcats F Jeffrey Taylor …who leads his team in scoring and rebounding with 17.9 points and 9.0 boards per game.

ESPN COLLEGE GAMEDAY

Visiting Gainesville for the first time since 2008 and third time overall, ESPN College GameDay emanated from the O’Connell Center Saturday at 10 a.m. and will once again with a pregame show an hour before the game begins. Donovan and Calipari were both interviewed in the morning; you can view the video below to see what they had to say.

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