Tonight, the Kentucky Wildcats welcome the Florida Gators to Rupp Arena what will likely be the most anticipated game of this season. Florida leads the SEC with an unblemished 11-0 conference record, and brings that gaudy thing into the most storied gymnasium in the SEC, and arguably in all of college basketball. This, ladies and gentlemen of the Big Blue Nation, is going to be good.
Florida has supplanted Arkansas and to a large extent, at least in the minds of the conference schedule-makers, as the main rival of Kentucky in the SEC. With the success Florida has enjoyed under head coach and former UK assistant Billy Donovan, they can be forgiven for this perception, and tonight will probably do nothing to ameliorate it.
Essentials for a Kentucky victory:
Shot selection — When Kentucky takes good shots, they present an enormous challenge for opponents in that you must either foul them, or get scored on.
Energy — Many of us have lamented the low-energy starts we have seen from Kentucky, and some casual effort when more was needed. If Kentucky does not bring their best against the Gators, they will lose this game.
Rebounding — Donovan knows his team is inferior to Kentucky in this stat, and he's going to try to motivate the Gators to rise above their comparative mediocrity. They are mature enough to do just that, so Kentucky must truly focus on block-outs and rebounding.
Defense — Florida hasn't played a team as powerful as Kentucky in a long time, but the reverse is also true for the Wildcats. If UK though LSU was tough, trust me — the Gators are tougher. A victory will require the best defense of the season from UK, particularly in transition.
Ballhandling. — Kentucky has been good with the ball lately, staying well under 20% turnovers in the last six games. That has to continue tonight against Florida's pressure.
This is what we have been waiting for. Let's get this done.