Florida definitely brought their "A" game on Sunday, and as many teams (including us) have found, their "A" game is all Florida needs. If this was a racing form, the little comment out to the right of Florida would say something like "Much the best", and Kentucky's would say something like "Bid early, outrun". Florida was excellent, and we couldn't stop them on offense or score on them in the second half. They drubbed us on the boards, and the only meaningful statistic we dominated was, incredibly, turnovers - 9 to 18.
Unfortunately for the SEC and college basketball, they got a lot of help from the officials. You expect some home cookin' at SEC games, but yesterday's game was extraordinary in its scope of Florida-centric calls, including Ted Valentine giving Donovan a chance to pull Noah before assessing him a technical. When was the last time you ever saw an official do that?
I suppose, in a way, it is fitting that we suffer the indignity of being "refereed to death" among all the others heaped on us yesterday. What goes around comes around.
Why did Florida beat us so handily? Two words - Taurean Green. Many people will tell you it was Noah - don't listen to them. If you look at the statistics, you will see that Florida has only lost one game where Green had 4 or more assists - Florida State - and in that game, he had 5 assists and 4 turnovers. When Green takes care of the ball and gets to the rim, the Gators almost always win.
So kudos to Florida on their victory. Back to the drawing board for UK.
I do want to comment on Noah's behavior, however. I believe Noah is a poor sportsman. His celebration would never be tolerated in the NBA, and should not be tolerated in college basketball. Many efforts have been made recently to reduce excessive celebrations in professional basketball, football, and even college football. It's time we applied it to college basketball as well. To me, it has truly gotten out of hand when the officials are all but asking permission to T up a player, as it was in yesterday's game.
And lest anyone think I am looking only at thee and not at me, I think Ramel Bradley should be forced to stop making his hand signals - in my mind, another form of taunting. It is far less egregious by any measure than Noah's air-guitar, chime-ringing or chest-thumping, but fair is fair.
I know - many are going to claim that I am just mad because Noah & Co. have had UK's number, and I will admit that fact does gall me. But who in college basketball today could take a completely dispassionate and disinterested view? A fan of some team that has never played Florida? Please. All I know is that you would never have seen such a thing in 1978, and I can think of no good reason why we should be forced to endure it now. Your mileage may vary.