The Fastbreak: No. 1 Kentucky sneaks by Florida 68-61 in Gainesville

By Adam Silverstein
February 7, 2015

It was a monumental task for the struggling Florida Gators to potentially upset the No. 1 Kentucky Wildcats at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, Florida, on Saturday night. And as it turns out, it was indeed too much to ask Florida (12-11, 5-5 SEC), which fell to 2-5 in its last seven games as Kentucky (23-0, 11-0 SEC) remained undefeated with a 68-61 victory.

The Gators are now 2-11 all-time against top-ranked teams with all 11 losses coming to the Wildcats. Florida has never defeated a team ranked No. 1 in the nation during a regular-season contest. breaks down Saturday’s action with 10 quick-hitters:

It was over when: Redshirt junior forward Dorian Finney-Smith drained a big trey and redshirt junior guard Eli Carter completed a driving finger roll, each play cutting Kentucky’s lead to two late in the contest. Redshirt senior center Jon Horford then had an opportunity to tie the game at the charity stripe with 1:41 remaining, but the 89.7 percent free throw shooter missed both attempts. In a similar situation nearly a minute later, Horford was called for a travel under the basket as opposed to him drawing a deserved foul while dribbling (which would have given him a chance to redeem himself). The Wildcats held on for the road victory over the Gators, hitting 21-of-22 free throws.

Significant stretch: Kentucky opened the second half 6-for-8 from the field, but a 6-0 Florida run gave the hosts back a two-point advantage with 12:33 to play. The Wildcats responded with a 5-0 spurt to re-take the lead with 11:41 left, holding it for the duration of the contest. UF actually led longer in the game, 19:36-16:19.

Important injury: Junior G Michael Frazier II, who appeared to be on fire early in the contest, twisted his ankle late in the first half. He tried to test it in the final 20 minutes but sat for the vast majority of the period, leaving the Gators without their leading scorer. Frazier was 3-for-4 from the floor and 2-for-3 from beyond the arc with 10 points at the time of his departure. Later, Frazier was officially diagnosed with an ankle sprain.

First half focus: Florida led 20-11 midway through the first half, taking advantage of six Kentucky turnovers while gifting the visitors six early fouls. UK used a 7-1 scoring stretch to get back in the game and capitalized on some of UF’s struggles with an 8-0 run to tie the game at 28-28 with 1:30 to go until halftime. However, Gators freshman point guard Chris Chiozza broke a 4:52 scoring drought with a driving layup off a near-turnover to give the hosts a two-point lead at the break. UF ended the half going 1-for-7 from the field with four turnovers in 11 possessions before Chiozza’s bucket.

Prominent player: With Frazier sidelined, Finney-Smith did some of the heavy lifting in the second half, finishing with a team-high 16 points on 6-of-10 shooting (3-for-5 from three). He also registered a team-high five boards and stayed away from fouling most of the contest until necessary in the final minute of the game.

Perfect play: Chiozza’s go-ahead bucket before the half was Florida’s highlight of the night, but Kentucky center Willie Cauley-Stein had the true “perfect play” with this driving dunk over UF freshman G Devin Robinson.

Standout stat: Fouling and free throw shooting was once again a major issue for the Gators. Florida committed 19 fouls – putting Kentucky in the bonus early in each half – and went just 7-for-14 from the charity stripe, missing key shots late in the game that might have allowed UF to keep it close and potentially pull off an upset.

What it means: Despite the loss, the Gators looked to be improved in a number of areas, such as pick-and-roll defense and ball movement on offense. Nevertheless, Florida simply had too many holes to plug and Kentucky found a way to pull out the victory.

Next up: Florida will get five days to prepare for an Ole Miss team that it lost to by one on the road. The Gators will host the Rebels on Thursday at 7 p.m. in the O’Dome.

Everything else: Horford committed two fouls just 1:32 into the game … referees called 14 fouls in the first 11:55 of the first half and just one over the final 8:05, putting both teams in the bonus midway through the period … Carter posted 11 points on 5-of-12 shooting but was just 1-for-8 from three … Chiozza was 3-for-5 with six points and four rebounds … the Wildcats committed 15 turnovers to the Gators’ 11 … Kentucky outrebounded Florida 33-20 but UF actually outscored UK in the paint 32-22 … only four Wildcats players scored more than a single point … there were eight lead changes and four ties in the contest


  1. Gatoralum88 says:

    Losing Frazier hurt. They fought hard but were overmatched. They were too big to handle especially with Walker being worthless & Horford being the softest 6’10 250 player I’ve ever seen. He’s horrible! It goes back to what I’ve already written numerous times this season…if your former team manager has to play major minutes you’re not going to be a good team.

    • Ken (CA) says:

      I disagree. Just like almost every other game we have lost this year, aside from any of the other issues, free throw shooting we would only have 3-4 losses. If they just put it together and didn’t go into those long 5-10 minute FG droughts especially in the 2nd half of most games, but in this case, the end of the first half tonight, have decent FG shooting, this team would be one of the best in the country record-wise.

      It is embarrassing to go 50% from the charity stripe at home, especially when you are in a tight game with what may be considered one of the most talented college teams ever. They have really not been beat by any team this year, they simply find ways to beat themselves. No one has a decent shot consistently, even Frazier. they are streaky, not smooth. 50% from the FT line is inexcusable.

    • Ken (CA) says:

      I don’t disagree about Walker, however. I really don’t get that lack of development at all. If you can’t even start on a .500 team and the walk on team-manager gets more PT than you do, you really need to look inside yourself to say WTF? I’m really considering going to the NBA draft? Seriously?

    • Michael Jones says:

      You guys need to get off of Kurtz. The guy understands the game and can play and is FAR from the worst player on this team, regardless of whether you’re hung-up on the fact that he USED to the team manager. . that says more about you guy than it does about Kurtz.

      • Ken (CA) says:

        You are reading the negative and misreading the intent. This is not a knock on Kurtz. This is a knock on supposedly one of the top prospects in the country that either doesn’t have the BB IQ or the work ethic to get more PT than a guy who has limited talent but strong heart and work ethic as well as great BB IQ

    • Michael Jones says:

      Kurtz also got minutes on last year’s Final Four team. Does that mean that they sucked too?

      • Gatoralum88 says:

        You made my point for me. If Kurtz is FAR from the worst player on this team then that’s not good…which is why I’ve thought for weeks now that they’re not a good team…nor will they be a good team this season. They’re an NIT team! C’mon Michael. Let’s face it, Kurtz is terrible!…which is why I didn’t hammer him like most did after the FSU loss. That’s what happens in those situations when you use someone with his ability(or lack thereof). If you need a big man for your intramural team, Kurtz is your guy. Kurtz trying to stop Towns the other night was embarrassing for UF. UK was sleep walking through that game until the last five minutes when they woke up & did what they had to do. If we want to consider UF as having one of the top programs in the country, Billy should have someone better.

        Sure, Kurtz played some last year but (to the best of my recollection) NEVER when it mattered. This year, he currently ranks 5th in total minutes & even in SEC play, with a full complement of players, ranks 6th…more than 5* Walker…more than 5* Robinson…more than Duke transfer Murphy…more than Michigan transfer Horford (which has actually taught me to temper my enthusiasm when it comes to transfers). Again, that’s not a good thing. While I applaud Kurtz for working hard & achieving his goal of becoming a member of the team, if we’re to consider Gator basketball a TOP program, his playing time should be reserved as a 10th-to-12th man in garbage time of games already in hand IMO.

  2. Alex says:

    Walker is just plain bad

    He has no feel for the game, no post-up game, he cannot shoot and he looks like he has no idea what is going on

    His 5 star rating was based on his abuse of smaller players and weak competition.

    You cannot survive off alley-oops and break away highlight dunks in big time bball.

  3. Ks Gator says:

    Not much more to say… it was a tough loss. I just wish the guys played with heart and there was a true leader on the team.

    They looked like their puppy just got ran over.

    • Michael Jones says:

      Bingo. It’s almost always a heart-issue with a Billy D coached team (last year’s team being one of the few exceptions). What’s ironic is that Billy D himself, as a player, had a lot of heart. But for some reason very few of his teams do. Big on talented pretty boys. Low on guys who are mentally tough going down the stretch.

      This year’s Kansas and Miami games are perfect examples of what I’m talking about. . the same kind of softness under fire that allowed inferior-but-tougher Butler and Louisville teams to come back against us in two Elite 8’s.

  4. Oldflyer says:

    Well, I feared a blow out, so I am–oh, what is the word?–relieved.

    I know it is churlish to blame officiating. I won’t do that because, as noted, the Gators helped UK immensely with poor free throw shooting, etc. On the other hand it is also very frustrating to watch how games are officiated. It is hard to believe that they are not corrupt. I told my wife in the latter stages, that UK would not be allowed to lose if it could be prevented. The story line of an unbeaten season is too important. The traveling call on Horford, at the same time he was being pounded, is as good an example as you can find.

    I don’t know if Horford is soft. I do know that he looked like a boy among men compared to UK’s bigs.

    I detest UK BB about as much as I detest FSU football (and everything else). UK symbolizes all that has gone wrong with big time “college” sports. It bears no resemblance to an actual college team represented by actual student-athletes.

  5. Dave Massey says:

    That call on Horford was terrible, not only was he being pounded but he was dribbling, didn’t know you could be called for travelling while dribbling.

    Horford was never expected to be a physical post player, his game inside is about playing position. I have trouble believing he is 6’10” until I see him stand up to a tape measure.

    The refs didn’t cost us this game though. Lousy free throw shooting will doom you against UK. They always shoot well from the line and last night they were almost perfect. 50% is acceptable from the field not the line. Too much fouling in the first place anyways.

    Not only is Walker bad, but Robinson is awful too. A couple of critical turnovers there in the second half. He almost always fires up a three when he gets the ball and no defense. These guys are the reason ratings are a joke. They really are nothing more than a popularity contest, seems like the more teams want a recruit, the higher his ratings are.

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