NCAA Game Summary - Kentucky at Florida
(Tuesday, February 12th)
Final Score: (7) Florida 69, (25) Kentucky 52
Gainesville, FL (Sports Network) - Scottie Wilbekin led five Florida players
in double-figures with 14 points and eight assists and Patric Young donated 12
points and 11 boards as the seventh-ranked Gators cruised past No. 25
Kentucky, 69-52, on Tuesday in a Top-25 SEC showdown.
Casey Prather came off the bench to provide 12 points on 6-of-8 shooting from
the floor for the Gators (20-3, 10-1 SEC), who won their second straight
following a loss at Arkansas last Wednesday to take over sole possession of
first place in the SEC. Mike Rosario and Eric Murphy had 12 and 10 points,
respectively, in the victory.
"They have a bunch of great freshmen players, but we have a bunch of a juniors
and seniors," Young said. "We've been through the SEC. We've been through the
NCAA Tournament. We've been together through so much. I'm not saying we're
entitled to anything, it's just we have experience and we're expected to
perform ... and expect ourselves to perform."
Willie Cauley-Stein had 10 points and six rebounds for the Wildcats (17-7,
8-3), who had a five-game winning streak stopped and lost freshman forward
Nerlens Noel to an apparent knee injury around the midway point of the second
Noel, who was injured after blocking a Rosario layup attempt, ranks first in
the nation in blocked shots with 4.5 per game. He had logged three straight
double-doubles entering the contest, but finished with eight points and six
rebounds before leaving the game.
As the first half came to a close, Wilbekin brought the crowd to its feet with
a behind the back pass to Prather, who then drove past Cauley-Stein for a
highlight one-handed slam and a 34-19 advantage with just under two minutes
UF forced 11 Kentucky turnovers in the first half which resulted in 15 points.
The Gators shot 5-of-7 from behind the arc and the Wildcats only converted 10-
of-24 field goals and trailed 38-25.
Florida opened up the second half on a 9-3 run as Prather's layup just over
five minutes in made it 47-28. UK fought back to get within 51-38, but Young
helped the home team with six straight points -- sandwiched in between a Noel
bucket -- for a 57-40 edge with 11 minutes remaining.
With 8:03 to play, Noel tracked down Rosario from behind on a fast break and
blocked his shot, but he came down awkwardly on his left knee, clearly in
plenty of pain. The highly-touted freshman remained on the floor for a couple
minutes before his teammates carried him off the court into the locker room.
"I admire the way he plays," Florida coach Billy Donovan said about Noel. "I
admire his energy. When you think about it, the injury came from a hustle
play. That kind of embodies the way he plays."
Noel entered the game with averages of 10.6 points, 9.6 rebounds and 4.5
assists per contest in 23 games this season. Kentucky, though, looked lost
without him and still trailed 57-45.
As the game fell below the five minute mark, the Wildcats' struggles without
Noel were evident and Prather's lefty lay-in increased UF's margin to 63-45
before it cruised to the victory the rest of the contest.
"We said, 'Let's guard the 3," and we did," Kentucky coach John Calipari said.
"Then all of a sudden, it's a 3, it's a 3, it's a 3. ... This was sort of a
game that exposed us physically."
The Wildcats took advantage of the Gators early on as Florida missed its
first five shots and trailed 4-0. A quick 10-2 surge that lasted three-plus
minutes, however, gave the home team a 10-6 lead.
Archie Goodwin's slam with 12:24 left in the first half put UK up 11-10,
but the Gators answered with another big swing as Wilbekin capped off a 15-4
flurry with a trey from the right wing to make it 25-15.
Noel not only leads the nation in blocks, but averages an even better 5.7
blocks per game in SEC play ... Kentucky had won five straight games against
Florida in the series ... The Gators have not suffered a loss in 12 home tilts
this season ... The Gators are now 4-1 against ranked opponents this season,
including 4-0 at the O'Connell Center ... UF now has registered 15 straight
20-win seasons, all of which have come under Donovan.
02/12 23:40:40 ET
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