When will Florida lose, or will that even happen again? That’s the question many are asking as the Gators have ripped through the SEC with an undefeated record and are now at 22 straight wins. A lot of people thought Kentucky could stop that run in the first matchup, but Florida ended up winning by 10 in Lexington.
The SEC may not be the best Conference in the nation, but it still isn’t a push over by any means. Florida’s only losses on the year have been on the road at Wisconsin and Connecticut without a full roster as SCottie Wilbekin and Kasey Hill didn’t play in those respective Games. With a full roster, the Gators are undefeated. In home Games, it’s been pretty straight forward for them as well, with only a couple close Games on the year. Surprisingly, one of those was against Auburn in a five-point win a couple weeks ago.
Kentucky started the year with the No. 1 overall ranking, but hasn’t really lived up to it and is now No. 25 in the AP polls. And it’s not like the Wildcats are starting to come around either. since that loss to Florida, they’ve been very iffy, losing to Arkansas (for the second time) and at South Carolina. They haven’t really looked like a great team on the road yet this season, so it’ll be interesting to see how they perform in Gainesville.
In the first meeting, Kentucky actually shot the ball well and got to the free-throw line a decent amount, but 13 turnovers killed them. Florida ended up with only five turnovers and their free-throw shooting was a bit better.
The Wildcats will need to find an answer to stopping SCottie Wilbekin and Casey Prather as the two went for 47 points in that first Game. Both of them were extremely efficient and hit a combined 19 free throws. That was about all the Gators needed as the rest of the squad held down the defensive end.
Kentucky will also need some kind of bench support in this Game as Willie Cauley-Stein and Alex Poythress couldn’t do anything against Florida. John Calipari even mixed up his starting lineup in the last Game and used Jon Hood and Jarrod Polson to begin the Game, maybe to light a spark under the others. It sort of worked, but James Young and Andrew Harrison still only shot 3-of-17 from the field off the bench, which isn’t exactly what you want.
For the Wildcats to have a chance, they’ll need to limit turnovers and get Julius Randle going. Randle is an automatic double-double, but the seven shots he had in the first Game wasn’t enough. He’ll need to attack the rim more in an effort to get Patric Young and Will Yeguete in foul trouble. Someone else will have to step up as well, whether it’s Young or the Harrison brothers.
OUtside of Prather and Wilbekin, the Gators still have Young and Yeguete down low, but also Michael Frazier II, who didn’t really do much last matchup. He’s coming off a 37-point Game with 11 three-pointers so you can’t forget about him.
With the balance and well-roundedness of Florida, it’s going to be hard for Kentucky to grab a win on the road. The Wildcats will need to keep it close early because they can’t afford to get down by too much against the Gators. They are the No. 1 team in the country for a reason.
Predicted Score- Florida 69 Kentucky 63