Kentucky-Florida: A look at recent history

With the big game tonight at Rupp Arena, Sea of Blue looks back at some of the most memorable games in recent years between these two SEC powers.


* February 4, 2006: O'Connell Center Badly needing a win to stabilize a shaky season, Kentucky travelled to hostile Gainsville. A surprising start, bolstered by a focused and attacking Rajon Rondo, staked the visitors to a 41-39 halftime edge. But the second half was a different story altogether, as Joakim Noah blocked, gestured and chest-pounded his way around the paint and Taurean Green drove repeatedly to the bucket for layups, as the Cats were handled by the Gators, who would go on to win the 2006 NCAA title.

* March 13, 2005: Georgia Dome Matt Walsh scored 26 points, and he and his buddies took advantage of an exhausted Kentucky team to take the SEC Tournament final. After a thrilling overtime win the night before over LSU, Kentucky seemed to run out of gas early against the Gators. Only Kelenna Azubuike showed up for UK, scoring 17 points, the only Wildcat in double figures.

* March 6, 2005: O'Connell Center You'd have thought the Gators had just won the national title the way they jumped, screamed, ripped off their jerseys and generally exalted in besting the Cats, 53-52, their first after eight straight losses. The win, at Florida, was the first for departing senior David Lee in his career against UK, and the first for the program since March of 2001.

* March 14, 2004: Georgia Dome Led by seniors Erik Daniels, Antowain Barbour, Cliff Hawkins and Gerald Fitch, the 2004 Cats overachieved all season. Their 89-73 victory in the SEC tournament title game pushed the Cats to a number one seed in the NCAAs later that day. Kentucky would go on to lose in an upset to UAB, while Florida would lose to 12th-seeded Manhattan in the first round.

* March 8, 2003: O'Connell Center: Eyeing an undefeated run through the SEC, Kentucky entered their regular season finale on a huge winning streak. Only the 1996 Kentucky team had run htrough a 16-game conference season unscathed, and Florida surely knew that. The student section -- known as the Rowdy Reptiles -- gave it to Keith Bogans and the Cats all game long, screaming several epithets and taunts. It was a tight, hard-fought game throughout, and Kentucky withstood a furious charge by Florida, icing the game with a late Cliff Hawkins steal in te backcourt. The 69-67 win sealed the deal for Kentucky, earned them the SEC title and elicited a rare show of emotion from head coach Tubby Smith, who, along with his players, gestured for several minutes after the game at the crowd.

* February 4, 2003: Rupp Arena: If you're a UK fan, there's no explanation needed for this game. Florida took over the No. 1 spot by default the day before, then invaded Rupp Arena to face No. 6 Kentucky. The rest, as they say, is Big Blue history. After trading baskets early, UK's stifling man-to-man defense took control and the Cats absolutely mauled, embarassed and humiliated the Gators, 75-60, in a game the final score does not reflect.

* February 6, 2001: Rupp Arena: Another classic rivalry game, this too often forgotten moment came courtesy of All-American Tayshaun Prince. In a back-and-forth game the whole way, Prince floated in the game-winner right before the buzzer, giving the Cats a 71-70 victory at Rupp.

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