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Florida @ Kentucky: Open Game Thread

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This is the official A Sea of Blue open game thread for the Florida Gators @ Kentucky Wildcats basketball game this evening at Rupp Arena, February 10th @ 9:00 PM.

Particulars of this game are as follows:

As I said in the pre-game, this is a gigantic opportunity for Kentucky. Florida is the best team in the East, and if the 'Cats want to increase their national respect even marginally, they have to win this game.

A win here will temporarily staunch the bleeding that has lately afflicted the Wildcats and much aroused the Big Blue Nation. Three teams in a row have defeated Kentucky, and a four-game skid would reduce UK fans to bitter recriminations and fighting amongst themselves. A victory tonight is as critical for fan morale as team morale, and Florida is anything but a pushover.

People are calling this a must-win. All things taken together, I believe that is a fair description.

Things Kentucky needs to do well to win:

  1. Defend the three. Florida is an outstanding three point team, and Kentucky would be better off letting the Gators take shorter shots than letting Calathes & Co. rain on them from outside the arc.
    Rebound. Kentucky cannot surrender a high OR percentage in this game and win. The Gators are efficient enough with poor offensive rebounding.
    Take care of the ball. This is staying here until we do it. No explanation should be necessary.

Things that will make it hard for Kentucky to win:

  1. Allowing Florida to guard Patterson and Meeks without fear of repercussions. UK must find a way to score if they get all the attention.
    Getting behind early. UK has played very poorly after getting off to a slow start.
    Fail to play defense for the whole shot clock. UK has lately been allowing too many late shots after playing pretty decent defense for 30 seconds or so.

If I was sick of losing last game, I am doubly sick of it now. We need this game for all kinds of reasons, not the least of which is the mental health of your humble correspondent. Let's do the work.

Go, Cats!