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Florida

at

Kentucky

College Basketball Pick

2/25/17

When these teams met at the beginning of the month, Kentucky was run off the court, embarrassed in an 88-66 loss in Gainesville. Now with revenge on the mind, the Wildcats are also looking at another SEC regular season title, and a win in this game would do just that. Of course, it won't be easy. Nothing this team has done of late has been easy and Florida already has the confidence of beating them.

One difference is that the Gators won't have big man John Egbunu down low to deal with Edrice Adebayo. While Egbunu played only 21 minutes in that first game, he was Florida's best post defender and now Kevarrius Hayes will be stuck in that role. Maybe Adebayo isn't an offensive force, but he could have a much easier time against Hayes and that could easily change how this game goes. One of Florida's biggest edges in that first game was attacking the glass as they had 17 offensive boards. Other than that, the Gators didn't do many things particularly outstanding outside of making 20-of-36 from two-point range. Kentucky was just bad overall at 23-of-61 from the field and only had two players reach double figures. The 54-29 discrepancy in rebounding could easily change without Egbunu to hold ground in the paint.

The Gators have been equally as good on the road this season, so that won't be something to detract from them, while the Cats have been far from reliant. That said, in a big revenge game, it could make all the difference in Lexington. This is a battle between the best offense and best defense in the SEC and the defense won handily in the first meeting. De'Aaron Fox was UK's best player the first time around despite coming off the bench, but the biggest difference has to be Malik Monk. He really struggled against Florida in the first game and his scoring has been hit-or-miss on the road for most of he season. But at home, Monk has at least 18 points in the last six games and he only had 11 in the Florida game. Other than Monk and Adebayo, Isaiah Briscoe is another guy that can do better than the six points he scored. Even though Florida has a great defense, it's going to be hard to keep down Kentucky twice in one season.

As for the Gators, they probably won't score 88 points again, unless this one goes higher scoring than expected. This game will be closer to the 60s and 70s because that's the type of game Florida wants to play. Without Egbunu, the Gators will have a tougher time on the glass, which means they can't turn it over as often. Kentucky doesn't have a good defense this year, but really stepped up in a home win against Tennessee a week ago, holding the Vols to 58 points. They'll need to bring that same kind of intensity to stop Devin Robinson, Kasey Hill and KeVaughn Allen from getting all the open looks they had in the first game. That trio combined with Chris Chiozza and Canyon Barry has been the driving force for this team, something that didn't happen last season.

Florida has a good team, but it'll be hard to back the Gators going against a UK squad looking for revenge after its worst loss of the season.

Our Pick - Kentucky by 1

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