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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FOUR BITS: Tebow, Wambach, Beal, Johnson

1 » A rash of quarterback injuries has shaken the NFL over the first half of the season, and there are also a number of floundering teams in serious need of a boost, but former Florida Gators signal caller Tim Tebow nevertheless remains a free agent. Sunday night, NFL.com‘s Mike Silver reported that the St. Louis Rams had “at least internally discussed the possibility of signing” Tebow though nothing was imminent and it was unlikely to happen. This report came after starting QB Sam Bradford was knocked out of Sunday’s game with a knee injury (he will miss the remainder of the season with a torn ACL). CBSSports.com‘s Jason LaCanfora later tweeted that the Rams have “no desire” to bring in Tebow and that head coach Jeff Fisher “would not consider it.” Instead, St. Louis will go with Kellen Clemens, a career 51.8 percent passer with seven passing touchdowns and 13 interceptions over eight seasons (including 12 starts). The biggest news story involving Tebow over the last few weeks included some shirtless pictures taken while he was on vacation with his family in Hawaii.

As Tebow hopes to have a future in football, it may be another sport entirely where he can make the greatest impact. According to TheMMQB.com, USA Rugby is extremely interested in having Tebow join the program and compete on behalf of the United States in the Olympics (assuming he picks up the sport well). Writer Jenny Vrentas crunches some numbers, with some help from a company named Atlantic Standard, and notes that Tebow’s athleticism is simply off the charts, which makes him a player the rugby community would covet.

Check out three more Florida Gators news BITS…after the break!

Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Tebow, Wambach, Beal, Johnson

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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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No. 7 Florida outclassed by No. 1 Kentucky

Ending a stretch of three games in six days, the No. 7/8 Florida Gators (19-5, 7-2 SEC) fell in their third opportunity to defeat a top-three ranked opponent on the road this season, getting routed 78-58 at Rupp Arena in Lexington, KY on Tuesday evening by the No. 1/1 Kentucky Wildcats (24-1, 10-0 SEC).

Kentucky extended their home winning streak to 49 games with the blowout of Florida, and the Gators fell to 0-8 all-time against the Wildcats in games when their opponent is ranked as the No. 1 team in the country.

UK outperformed UF on both ends of the court. Kentucky shot 52.7 percent from the field and 60.0 percent from downtown while holding Florida to 34.9 percent on field goals and 22.2 percent on tries from beyond the arc.

Wildcats forwards Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and guard Doron Lamb were dominant throughout the game, scoring 16, 13 and 18 points, respectively. Davis was 8-of-18 from the field with six rebounds, four blocks and two steals, while Kidd-Gilchrist added 13 rebounds and three assists. Lamb dominated the Gators on the perimeter by hitting 4-of-5 of his attempts from beyond the arc.

After three consecutive possessions without a shot being taken by either team, Florida scored six-straight points to open up with an early lead, but Kentucky quickly negated that in part by converting consecutive steals into field goals to even up the score.

The Wildcats started just 3-for-12 from the field but shot much better down the stretch while converting the Gators’ turnovers and miscues into quick points. With the game tied at 17 following a pair of Florida free throws, Kentucky took over and outscored the visitors 21-9 over the final 9:36 of the half to take a 12-point lead into the break thanks in part to a three-pointer by Lamb just before the buzzer.

UK ended the half hitting 12 of their final 17 shots while also going 4-of-8 from downtown compared to just 2-of-9 for UF from beyond the arc.

The Wildcats began the second half in similar fashion, hitting consecutive threes and going on an 11-0 run to pull away from the Gators 49-30 with 15 minutes left.

Florida never recovered from the onslaught, continuing to miss shots and allowing their poor offense to affect their effort and defensive intensity. Kentucky continued making baskets while taking it to the visitors defensively.

Gators junior G Kenny Boynton, who was just 2-for-5 in the first half, finished 6-for-12 (4-of-8 from downtown) with a team-high 18 points. Freshman G Bradley Beal was Florida’s most consistent player throughout the game, but he also struggled hitting just 5-of-15 shots (and 2-of-7 threes) for 14 points with six boards and three dimes.

Senior point guard Erving Walker, though he did his best to hold onto the ball, was irrelevant offensively, going 0-for-7 from the field (0-for-4 from deep) with just one assist and not a single free throw attempted.

The Wildcats registered 18 assists on 29 makes, blocked the Gators six times, scored 38 points in the paint and received 15 points from their bench. Florida only had nine assists on their 22 scores and was also outrebounded 38-31 over the course of the evening.

The Gators will have four days to recover from this difficult loss before hosting one of the four other teams they lost to this season. Florida will take on Tennessee on Saturday at 4 p.m. in a game set to air on SEC Network (check your local listings).

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No. 7 Florida Gators at No. 1 Kentucky Wildcats

Location: Rupp Arena – Lexington, KY [Capacity: 23,500]
Time: 7:00 p.m. (ET)

TV: ESPN/ESPNHD
SiriusXM: 91
Online Video: ESPN3.com
Live Updates: @OnlyGators

(7) FLORIDA GATORS (1) KENTUCKY WILDCATS
Head Coach: Billy Donovan Head Coach: John Calipari
Record: 19-4 (7-1) Record: 23-1 (9-0)
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Southeastern
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Florida +9; O/U 142.5

HISTORY and STREAKS

» Kentucky leads the all-time series against Florida 90-33, and the Gators are just 13-20 against the Wildcats since Donovan took over the team.
» Florida is 0-7 against Kentucky all-time when the Wildcats are ranked No. 1 in the country; however, all seven of those games were played before Donovan was coach with UK’s most recent victory in such a matchup coming in 1996. Since then the Gators are 2-0 against top-ranked opponents (both wins under Donovan), defeating Duke in 2000 and Ohio State in 2007 (for the national title).
» Kentucky is 65-2 all-time at home as the No. 1 ranked team in the AP poll.
» Calipari is one of three coaches (Frank McGuire) to lead three different schools to No. 1 rankings; he has accomplished that feat in five total seasons.
» UF’s seven-game winning streak is their longest since 2009-10 (eight games) and lengthiest in-conference streak since 2006-07 (13 games). UK, on the other hand, has a 16-game winning streak including a number of blowout victories.
» All five of Florida’s normal starters are averaging double figures in scoring.
» The Gators have made 10+ three-pointers in 16 of 23 games this year, a season-high mark under Donovan.
» Florida has made a three in 674 consecutive games dating back to Jan. 1992.
» UF has posted a positive assist-to-turnover margin in 16-of-19 victories but has put forth a negative ratio in that category in all four of their losses.
» The Gators are 284-37 since 1988-89 when holding opponents under 70 points.
» Florida is one victory away from winning 20+ games for the 14th consecutive season, which is currently the longest active streak in the SEC and fifth-longest nationally.
» Kentucky holds a 48-game home winning streak at Rupp Arena, the longest such home winning streak in the nation.
» The Wildcats lead the SEC in rebounding margin (+7.8 per game).
» Kentucky has more wins (2,075) than any other NCAA team – ever.
» The Wildcats also have five players averaging double figures.
» Kentucky is 68-1 under Calipari when holding an opponent to 67 points or fewer.
» The Wildcats’ defense has been outstanding recently as UK has held their last four opponents to an average of 47.5 points per game.
» Florida is ranked No. 9 in scoring offense (80.1 points), No. 8 in scoring margin (14.1 points), No. 1 in three-pointers (10.5 per game), No. 12 in field goal percentage from three (40.2 percent), No. 16 in assists (16.3 per game) and No. 5 in assist/turnover ratio (1.48) nationally as of Feb. 5. The Gators are also 189th (out of 338 teams) in free throw shooting (68.4 percent).
» Kentucky is ranked No. 19 in scoring offense (78.2 points), No. 9 in scoring defense (57.5 points), No. 2 in scoring margin (20.5 points), No. 14 in field goal percentage (48.6 percent), No. 1 in field goal percentage defense (35.8 percent), No. 9 in rebound margin (+7.8) and No. 1 in blocked shots (9.4 per game) nationally as of Feb. 5. The Wildcats are No. 10 in fouling, committing 15.2 per game and No. 225 (out of 338 teams) in three-pointers (5.5 per game).

LAST TIME OUT

After splitting the regular season series 1-1 with each squad winning at home, Kentucky upended Florida 70-54 in the championship game of the 2011 SEC Tournament in the teams’ last meeting. Brandon Knight was one of four Wildcats in double figures and scored a game-high 17 points in the contest, while the Gators struggled offensively (38.6 percent from the field, 37.5 percent from the line) and saw Kenny Boynton lead the way with 10 points on 4-of-16 shooting. Florida lost both halves and Kentucky’s 42.9 percent shooting from beyond the arc kept UF at a distance the entire contest.

PLAYERS TO KEEP AN EYE ON

FLORIDA
» Senior point guard Erving Walker (#11)…who is the longest tenured player on the team having appeared in 127 consecutive games with 66-straight starts. A shoot-first player much of his career, Walker has been tasked with distributing the ball and managing the game this year. He is the SEC’s active leader in minutes (3,906) and treys (264) but also ranks second in points (1,620), assists (495), steals (149) and free throws made (400). Walker is No. 6 on the school’s all-time scoring list, No.23 in assists, No. 8 in free throws, No. 4 in threes made, No. 2 in treys attempted (687) and No. 4 in minutes. He is also hitting a team-best 80.9 percent of his attempts from the charity stripe while averaging 12.6 points and an SEC-best 5.1 assists per game.
» Junior guard Kenny Boynton (#1)…who is a dynamic scorer and just the second starter returning from a year ago. Boynton is working on his consistency this season and is already shooting better than he has throughout his career (47.3 percent from the field and 43.8 percent from downtown). He is the best defender on the Gators and is often put on the opponent’s best backcourt playmaker. Boynton currently ranks fifth in the SEC among active players in points (1,405) and third in three-pointers (229). He had hit a trey in 34-straight games and is the SEC’s second-leading scorer averaging 17.6 points per game. Boynton is No. 6 on UF’s list for threes made.
» Freshman G Bradley Beal (#23)…who is starting at the three for Florida fresh out of high school. Beal was the 2011 Gatorade National Player of the Year and is arguably the most talented player to sign with the Gators since Donovan took over. He is averaging 14.3 points and 6.1 rebounds while shooting 44.2 percent from the field and 74.3 percent from the line while playing a team-high 33.4 minutes per game.
» Sophomore center Patric Young (#4)…who joined the starting lineup this year after being the primary frontcourt reserve as a freshman. Young saw action in all 37 games as a freshman, averaging 3.4 points and 3.8 rebounds in limited action. He has four double-doubles on the season and scored a career-high 25 points against Arizona. Young is posting averages of 10.7 points, 6.5 boards and 1.0 blocks per game.
» Forwards junior Erik Murphy (#33) and sophomore Will Yeguete (#15)…who are trying to be do-everything players for Florida. Murphy is averaging 10.2 points and 4.2 boards with team-highs of 1.3 blocks and 46.1 percent accuracy from three. Yeguete is netting 4.7 points, 6.4 rebounds and 1.3 steals in 22.9 minutes per game.
» Redshirt junior G Mike Rosario (#3)…who is finally playing for Florida after transferring out of Rutgers and sitting out the 2010-11 season. Rosario scored more than 1,000 points in two seasons with his former team and averaged 16.7 points per game during his sophomore year. He is the Gators’ de facto sixth man and is seeing 15.8 minutes of court time each game, averaging 8.2 points while shooting 43.9 percent from the floor and 39.0 percent from beyond the arc.

KENTUCKY
» F Anthony Davis (#23)…who is leading his team in scoring (13.9 points) and rebounding (10.1 boards) while shooting a team-best 66.3 percent from the floor (third nationally). He is also the country’s leading defender with a NCAA-best 4.8 blocks per game and a team-high 1.5 steals (eighth in the SEC). Davis has set the SEC freshman blocks record with seven games left to play and is in consideration for a number of top conference and NCAA awards.
» G Doron Lamb (#20)…who is one of the Wildcats’ “veterans” as a sophomore and is the team’s second-leading scorer averaging 13.5 points per game. He shoots 47.0 percent from the field and team-highs of 47.8 percent from three and 82.4 percent from the charity stripe.
» F Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (#14)…who is another dazzling freshman, averaging 12.6 points and 7.5 rebounds in 31.0 minutes per game, the second-most on the team.
» F Terrence Jones (#3)…who is the third member of the Wildcats’ big frontcourt, hauling in 12.5 points and 6.4 boards per game. Unlike Davis and Kidd-Gilchrist, Jones also has range and is netting 36.7 percent of his attempts from beyond the arc while still averaging 49.5 percent shooting all-around.

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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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