Jennifer O'Neil had a big game against the Gators - Joshua Lindsey-USA TODAY Sports
30 Straight home wins. For The Women!! Sure, thirty straight is no big deal for the UK Men, but this mark is something that Matthew Mitchell is going to be able to hang his hat on for a while. 30 straight at home for this squad, and 31 may be just around the corner. And the records are not done falling yet. How did they do it? Well it wasn't the easy way, that's for sure. So let's break it down.
I mentioned in the pre-game that these teams always seem to play each other hard and tonight was no exception. Florida gutted it out all the way, and Kentucky just could not take advantage of what Florida gave them until about the 10:00 mark in the second half. Then UK finally settled down, but at that point, Florida had been the beneficiary of 12 unforced UK turnovers. The Hoops Squad just could not stop themselves from throwing the ball away. Either bad passes, bad ball handling, or not rebounding with two hands and holding onto the ball cost Kentucky at least 8 points in the first half, and about 6 more in the second. but UK's pressure, combined with the return of A'Dia Mathies to the forefront of the UK game, were just too much for the Gators.
Mathies gets the game ball, with Jennifer O'Neill a close second. Mathies is back to her old self in the last couple of games and it could not have come at a better time. She and O'Neill buried Florida every time they tried to make a run. They were just way too much for Florida's guards to keep up with, even when Florida would sink into that sagging 2-3 zone they love to play. UK had 4 players in double figures for the game with Mathies leading the way with 20. That's her sixth game this season as the leading scorer for Kentucky. Fifteen of the sixteen turnovers were committed before that 10:00 mark in the second half, and after that UK just clamped down on Florida and learned how to hold onto the ball. FG% was down just a tick at 43.5%, but 3-pt % was at 39.1%. 65% at the line for FT's was OK, but below the season average.
UK held Florida to 36.8% FG% and just 20% behind the arc. however in what to me was the most surprising stat of the night, Florida hit 25-30 at the line. There were some very suspect calls in this game, but it was very physical.That still doesn't account for Florida making more FT's than UK took. The Cats fought through it, however, so that one stays right there for now. In the second half, Florida looked tired when the game got down to it's final 3-4 minutes, and they made a lot of mistakes right along with a lot of clutch shots. This game was classic UK-Florida, but UK gets win 6 in the last 6 games to remain perfect the last three years.
Returning Kentucky High School star Sydney Moss was 0-10 in 20 minutes of playing time in her return to the Bluegrass after shunning UK's offer to stay and play at home. Don't expect that to happen again, however, because she is too good a player. Jaterra Bonds had 21 for Florida, to lead all their scorers. Kentucky is now 13-1 (1-0)on the season, and Florida 11-4 (0-1).
UK plays again Sunday at 3:00PM. There is no TV for that game. The next televised game is January 10th at 6:00PM Vs. Texas A&M. Another note for UK. They are averaging just under 5000 paid attendance per game this OOC season. But for the one game that UK played in Rupp, they had almost 19K attending. For the UL game at the Yum!Center, over 15K attending. If anyone does not think that the Cats can pack out a bigger facility than Memorial, just look at those numbers. They too need someone to look into their facilities come time to start upgrading. Basketball, it's not just for Kentucky men anymore!!