Florida vs. Kentucky score, takeaways: Gators unable to keep up in Rupp Arena

By Adam Silverstein
February 22, 2020
Florida vs. Kentucky score, takeaways: Gators unable to keep up in Rupp Arena
Basketball

Image Credit: GatorsMBK / Twitter

Florida Gators’ basketball’s three-game winning streak came to an abrupt, decisive end on Saturday night in Lexington, Kentucky. Despite an impressive first-half effort, Florida (18-9, 9-5 SEC) was outclassed in the second half by the No. 10 Kentucky Wildcats (22-5, 12-2 SEC), falling 65-59 on the road.

Though the Gators have not been successful historically in Rupp Arena, they were able to quiet the Wildcats’ faithful by matching the hosts shot for shot in the first half. The visitors were unable to keep up that momentum in the latter 20 minutes, dropping what would have been a key Quadrant 1 opportunity for a team on the bubble of most NCAA Tournament projections.

What went down on Saturday night? Let’s have a look with some fastbreak takeaways from the first of two Florida-Kentucky games this season.

It was over when … the Wildcats were able to make four straight free throws down the stretch after the Gators cut their deficit to two points with 15.9 seconds remaining. Just as Florida tried to put pressure on in the game’s final minutes, Kentucky guard Immanuel Quickley got a lucky roll on a three-pointer to put his team ahead 61-53 with 1:34 to play. Quickley was outstanding on Saturday night, draining three straight triples in the second half as part of a heartbreaking run that turned a solid UF advantage into a significant deficit. He finished 8 of 17 from the field and 4 of 6 from downtown with a game-high 26 points. Florida was simply unable to stop him in the second half, and it cost the visitors the game.

Second-half slowdown: The Gators were abhorrent offensively in the second half, going on droughts without field goals of 6:51 and 4:54 in the period. Florida shot just 1 for 11 from the field over a span of 11:45. During the front half of that stretch, Kentucky went on a 19-4 run as UF saw a seven-point lead become an eight-point deficit. An inability to find the bottom of the basket over such an extended period of time forced the Gators to play from behind, and they were never able to catch up over the duration of the game — plus, four turnovers in the final 3:12 did not help. While many will talk about uncalled fouls that would have benefitted Florida — and there is something to be said for that — but there were not many fouls called on either side and — in a rarity — UF had more foul shots than UK did in Rupp (14-10) with the Gators having three fouls to give late in the game.

Exceptional efforts: Sophomore forward Keyontae Johnson remained his consistent self, hitting 8 of 13 shots for a team-high 19 points with nine boards; however, he went 0 for 4 from long range with three turnovers. Freshman G Tre Mann stepped up in a major way with 13 points on 3 of 4 shooting from long range. Redshirt senior F Kerry Blackshear Jr.’s scoring contributions (18 points) and effort off the glass (six boards) were outweighed by five costly turnovers.

Odds and ends: Sophomore point guard Andrew Nembhard had six assists and six rebounds, but he made just 1 of 6 shots with four turnovers in a terrible road effort during a game in which he was sorely needed … hot-shooting sophomore G Noah Locke, who played a huge role in the Gators’ three-game winning streak, missed all five of his attempts from downtown and did not score in 24 minutes … UK dominated UF scoring in the paint (36-26), on the fastbreak (10-0) and off turnovers (20-12) … the Gators went 1 of 9 from three in the second half … Florida fell to 40-103 all-time vs. Kentucky, including 10-53 in Rupp and 3-6 under head coach Mike White … UF has not defeated a top-10 UK team in Rupp since 1998 … the Wildcats have won three straight vs. the Gators

What it means: Florida wasted an opportunity at a Quadrant 1 victory, “wasted” because — despite this game being on the road against a top-10 team — it was close enough throughout the contest that a win was definitely possible if it did not suffer scoring and turnover troubles. The loss will not ultimately hurt the Gators, though a victory may have taken them off the bubble — at least for a while.

What’s next? Florida will host LSU on Wednesday at 9 p.m. in a game that will air live nationally on ESPN2. The Gators fell 84-82 at the Tigers back on Jan. 21.

One Comment

  1. SWFL Joe says:

    A second half lengthy scoring drought and poorly timed turnovers. Where have we seen this before

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