Wildcats outwork Gators for upset in Kansas City

A double-digit underdog without a top-25 victory yet this season, the Kansas State Wildcats (9-3) outworked the No. 8/9 Florida Gators (8-2) on both ends of the court on Saturday night as they pulled off an impressive 67-61 upset victory in a neutral site game at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, MO.

Kansas State completed its first non-conference win against a top-10 team since 1981 by dominating Florida on the boards (36-27) and holding the visitors to a paltry 26.3 shooting from beyond the arc.

The Wildcats also got plenty of help from their bench as reserves scored 21 of their 67 points. Though the Gators dominated paint scoring by posting 32 points including 19 from junior center Patric Young, KSU played solid post defense throughout the night and had C Jordan Henriquez finish with five blocks on the evening.

Young was 8-of-11 with 10 rebounds for his fourth double-double of the season and was one of two UF players (junior forward Casey Prather) to foul out.

Tied at 14 with 10:51 remaining in the first half, Kansas State took it to Florida on both ends of the court. The Wildcats outscored the Gators 16-4 heading into halftime and jumped out to a 33-23 lead at the break.

Florida only connected on one field goal over the final 8:50 of the period, and the 33 points given up in the first half was the most UF has allowed so far this season.

It only took a few minutes for the Gators to get right back in the game. Florida opened up the second half on a 12-3 run to get within one of Kansas State and knotted the contest at 41 with 13:21 to play on a big three-pointer by senior guard Kenny Boynton.

The Wildcats did not waste time regaining their lead, putting together an 11-2 scoring stretch to retake a 10-point lead with five minutes left in the game. The Gators cut their deficit to five points on two free throws by Young with 2:14 left but were unable to pull closer than that as KSU held on for the big upset.

Kansas State guards Will Spradling and Rodney McGruder combined for 30 points and 12 rebounds. Each went 4-for-12 for the field but combined to make 11-of-14 free throws. KSU took 14 more attempts from the charity stripe than UF.

Boynton and junior point guard Scottie Wilbekin each added 11 points for Florida. Boynton’s cold streak continued as he went 4-for-11 from the field and 1-for-5 from downtown. He is 13-of-51 on field goals and 4-of-32 on threes over the last five games.

The Gators have now lost at least two non-conference games every year since 2006-07 and will likely fall out of the top 15 when the new top-25 polls are released on Monday.

Florida will play one more game before 2012 ends as it travels to Sunrise, FL to take on Air Force in the 2012 Orange Bowl Basketball Classic next Saturday at 4:30 p.m.

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Gameday: (8) Florida Gators vs. Kansas State

Location: Sprint Center – Kansas City, MO [Capacity: 18,000]
Time: 8:00 p.m. EDT

TV: ESPN2/ESPN2HD (Mitch Holthus, Fran Fraschilla)
SiriusXM: 91 | Radio: Gator Radio Network [Affiliates]
Online Video: WatchESPN.com | Mobile Video: WatchESPN app
Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter and SportsYapper app

No. 8 FLORIDA GATORS KANSAS STATE WILDCATS
Head Coach: Billy Donovan Head Coach: Bruce Weber
Record: 8-1 Record: 8-2
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Big 12
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Florida -11 | O/U 128

HISTORY / STREAKS / STATS

» Florida is 1-0 all-time against Kansas State with the lone game played in 2010 in the Orange Bowl Basketball Classic in Sunrise, FL. UF is 18-12 all-time against current members of the Big 12.
» Four of the Gators’ regular starters are averaging double figures.
» Florida has held six of its seven opponents under 50 points.
» UF is 33-2 since the beginning of the 2011-12 season when holding opponents under 71 points in a game.
» The Gators were just 3-5 against top-25 opponents last season with all five losses coming to top-three teams. UF is currently scheduled to take on seven top-25 opponents as part of the 2012-13 campaign and is already 1-1 in such games.
» Florida is third nationally in scoring defense (50.4 points), eighth in scoring margin (+22.0 points), 12th in rebound margin (+10.8) and 14th in field goal percentage defense (.361).
» The Gators are seventh nationally in fouling, committing 13.0 per game, and 133rd nationally in assists, dishing just 13.6 per game.
» Kansas State is ranked third nationally in three-point defense (.225), 15th in scoring defense (56.1), 19th in rebound margin (+8.4) and 265th in field goal percentage (.408).
» The Wildcats only have two players scoring in double digits and two averaging more than five boards per contest.
» Only six Kansas State players have made a three this year. Of the four players that have shot more than 20, the best shooter is hitting 36.6 percent of his attempts.
» Saturday’s contest is a neutral site game in Kansas City, which is two hours east of Manhattan, KS. The 2010 game played in Sunrise was about four hours south of Gainesville, FL.
» Despite the picture above, UF will be wearing orange alternate jerseys in the game.

Read the rest of the Florida-Kansas State preview…more after the break!
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