It’s a little hard to believe, but we have finally reached the end of the regular season for 2015, and the ending of the season is pregnant with all sorts of storylines and possibilities. The Kentucky Wildcats will face the Florida Gators in the last game of the season for the fourth straight season, on Senior Day. Normally, this game might mean something significant for the regular-season SEC championship, but for the each of the last four seasons, one or the other of these two teams has had the SEC regular-season title wrapped up before this game happened. That’s true again today.
The big theme for today is Kentucky’s aspirations to produce an undefeated regular season for the first time in almost five decades. In the process, the Wildcats will continue a streak that could wind up eclipsing their longest winning streak ever in history. In other words, we are now into the area of seriously historic consequences.
For Florida, there is very little in the way of motivation for this game. Florida is not going to the NCAA Tournament this season unless they win the SEC Tournament. The Gators have struggled while the Wildcats have prospered, and coming into a sold-out Rupp Arena to face 25,000 rabid fans dying to see an undefeated season is not just a heavy lift, it would be a momentous upset far greater than most might imagine. On paper, Florida is no match for Kentucky in Lexington. But you never know, and the Gators are talented even if they haven’t been able to leverage that talent for most of the year.
|When:||Saturday, March 7th|
|Where:||Rupp Arena, Lexington, KY|
|Radio:||UK Radio Network|
|Streaming:||Live video via CBS|
Essentials for victory
Take care of the ball — The Gators are good at forcing turnovers, and they depend a lot on them for their offense. If UK can limit turnovers to under ten, there is almost no way Florida can win this game.
Force the Gators to put the ball on the floor — Florida’s 3-point shooting may look anemic, but that’s because they’ve been without the services of one of the best shooters in the country. Michael Frazier II comes back today, and he may be a factor. UK can’t let him be.
Get the ball into the paint — Florida simply cannot guard Kentucky in the post, and if the Wildcats can get it there early and often, I like our chances.
Avoid silly fouls — Kentucky has hurt themselves in the last two games with silly fouls, particularly Karl-Anthony Towns. If Kentucky can avoid that, it will be a big plus.
Assail the offensive glass — Florida is a poor rebounding team, and Kentucky needs to take advantage.
This is a game that Kentucky’s main job will be to avoid getting cocky, avoid the temptation to launch a bunch of threes, make the simple pass and simple play. Florida makes a ton of mistakes an errors on both sides of the court that teams have been exploiting all season, and Kentucky doesn’t need to do anything heroic or fancy to win this basketball game — they have the physical size, talent, and cohesion advantage. If Kentucky will just play together as a team, they will demonstrate the usefulness of Ben Franklin’s famous quote as applied to basketball: If Kentucky will hang together, Florida will hang themselves separately.