Kentucky heads down to Gainesville to face what the SEC considers to be their "permanent rival," the Florida Gators. I suppose in a recent historical sense there is a bit of a rivalry there, but when I think rivals in basketball in the SEC, my first thought is to the Tennessee Volunteers. I suppose this is just a "What have you done for me lately?" kind of thing.
|When:||Saturday, Feb 7th at 9:00 PM|
|Where||O’Connell Center, Gainesville, Florida|
|Radio||UK Sports Network|
Season so far for Florida:
Season record: 14-7 overall, 5-4 conference
This has not been a typical Florida team. Despite having been considered a top ten team in the pre-season poll, the Gators have been anything but all season. Early, there were injury issues and waiting for Alex Murphy to become eligible. Florida has been unable to defeat any top 20 opponents all season, although they did play Kansas tough on the road and Georgetown tough at a neutral site.
In the SEC, Florida has been, well, pretty awful considering their recent history. It’s certainly forgivable to lose on the road to Georgia and Ole Miss, but getting crushed by LSU at home and losing to a 2-7 Vanderbilt team on the road does not make the Gators look like a very good team.
Kentucky and Florida have played 131 times in history, with the Wildcats winning 94 and Florida managing 37 victories. Florida’s most successful run against Kentucky was between 2005 and 2008, where the Gators went 7-2 vs. the Wildcats, taking 7 in a row between March of 2005 and January of 2008. 7 in a row is the longest winning streak ever against Kentucky by an SEC team. Since John Calipari came to Kentucky, the Gators are 6-9 against the Wildcats, including three consecutive wins last season.
|0||Kasey Hill||S*||G||6' 1"||182||So.||28.8||7.4||2.3||4.1||0.9||0.2|
|20||Michael Frazier II||S**||G||6' 4"||194||Jr.||30.8||13.4||4.7||1.6||1.4||0.1|
|1||Eli Carter||S*+||G||6' 2"||200||RJr.||21.8||7.8||2.2||1.9||0.8||0|
|10||Dorian Finney-Smith||S*||F||6' 8"||218||RJr.||27.1||12.8||5.7||1.8||1.2||0.8|
|21||Jon Horford||S+||C||6' 10"||245||Gr.||20.1||6.6||4.8||0.3||0.5||0.9|
|30||Jacob Kurtz||MR*||F||6' 6"||210||Sr.||21||4.5||4.1||1.1||0.8||0|
|11||Chris Chiozza||MR||G||6' 0"||160||Fr.||22||3.9||1.6||2.1||1.5||0|
|3||Devin Robinson||MR||F||6' 8"||178||Fr.||17.8||5.7||2.5||0.8||0.5||0.3|
|23||Chris Walker||R*||F||6' 10"||220||So.||15.2||5.2||3.8||0.1||0.3||1.1|
|5||Alex Murphy||R+||F||6' 8"||225||RJr.||13.3||5||2.2||0.2||0.4||0.3|
|14||Lexx Edwards||R*@||G||6' 2"||220||Sr.||2.3||0||0.6||0.1||0||0|
|24||Zach Hodskins||R@||G||6' 4"||203||Fr.||1.8||0||0||0||0||0|
|42||Billy Donovan||R*@||G||6' 2"||192||RSr.|
|2||Brandone Francis||R-||G||6' 5"||205||Fr.|
|15||John Egbunu||R-||C||6' 11"||266||So.|
|32||Schuyler Rimmer||R-@||F/C||6' 10"||250||So.|
|25||DeVon Walker||R*&||G/F||6' 6"||203||Jr.|
|+||Eligible transfer/red shirt|
|&||Injured, not available|
|T||Transfered out of program|
|Rank and Records||UK||UF|
|Strength of Schedule||#14||#20|
|RPI Top 50||9-0||1-6|
Offensive (SEC Only)
Defensive (SEC Only)
Florida Team Notes
- This is one of the worst-shooting Florida teams in recent memory. They are only at about 1.05 points/possession on the season and an anemic 1.02 in conference.
- Defensively, the Gators are pretty good — 3rd best in the league.
- Florida is shooting just under 50% from the field and only 33.3% from the arc.
- The Gators make about 70% of their free throws. Not bad, not great.
- Florida is a fair defensive rebounding team.
- When it comes to turnovers, Florida forces the second-most in the conference behind UK.
- The Gators put up a fair number of 3-balls, but they are be no means a bombs-away team.
- Florida is poor on the offensive glass and doesn’t get to the line a lot.
Florida Player notes
- Michael Frazier II is the leading scorer at 13.4 points per game. He is also a good defensive player and a dangerous 3-point shooter at almost 40%.
- Kasey Hill is the point guard and leads Florida in assists. He also gets to the line more than any other Gator and shoots 37.5% from the arc, although he takes very few threes.
- Dorian Finney-Smith, the Virginia Tech transfer, is the 2nd leading scorer and best offensive rebounder on the team. He’s also excellent from outside, shooting 39% from the arc.
- Jon Horford, the Michigan transfer, is the bets reboiunder on the team and its most efficient player.
- Eli Carter is a slashing type of guard who doesn’t shoot much from the perimeter.
- Alex Poythress is lost for the season with an ACL.
- Trey Lyles is recovering from an illness and did not make the trip.
- DeVon Walker is out for the season with a knee injury
- Brandone Francis is academically ineligible.
- John Egbunu is academically ineligible.
- Dillon Graham left the team earlier in the year and will transfer.
This Florida team is only a shell of last year’s Final Four squad. While many expected to see Florida strong again, academic eligibility, injuries, and players not having a good season (Chris Walker) have relegated them to a mid-pack SEC bubble team who’s NCAA Tournament hopes are sinking fast. They are still talented and have some fine players, but they haven’t played well as a team all season, and there have been too many disappointments to count.
Florida turns the ball over pretty liberally, which has been their undoing this season despite taking more away from opponents than they surrender. Florida also struggles with rebounding, but the have been somewhat better with defensive rebounding in the SEC.
To beat Kentucky, the Gators are going to have to make a lot of shots they haven’t been making, take care of the defensive boards, and take care of the basketball against a Kentucky team that is better at all these things. Florida nominally has fair size, but they are going to face a larger and bulkier Kentucky front line.
SEC road games are always tough, and this is unlikely to be an exception. However, the Wildcats are and should be favored to win this game. Despite the fact this will predictably be a sellout of the O-Dome and the Gators will be feeling like this is a must-win game for their NCAA Tournament hopes, they will have a daunting task against the undefeated Wildcats this evening. Ken Pomeroy has Kentucky at only 86% to win this game, which is the second-lowest prediction remaining in Kentucky’s regular season, but still a pretty high winning prediction.
However, UK has been showing signs of either disinterest and/or hitting a rough patch in their season. Both those things could conspire to put Kentucky in a game they could wind up in a position to lose. Don’t be surprised if this one comes down to the final few possessions. The intangibles favor the Gators, and Billy Donovan has been very successful, comparatively speaking, against John Calipari.