Saturday afternoon will play host to Kentucky’s biggest game of the year.
Yes, I know, you’re probably saying "What!? What about Kansas?" Well, that was a regular season game that solely counted in the win/loss column. Saturday’s matchup between the Florida Gators and the Kentucky Wildcats has much more equity.
The last time these two teams met was three weeks ago in Gainesville as the Gators mopped the floor with Kentucky, cruising to an 88-66 blowout win. While De’Aaron Fox lead the way with 19 points on just 5-10 shooting, he failed to record an assist.
Malik Monk’s road struggles continued as he shot just 4-14 for 11 points. The Cats faced serious foul trouble as well with Wenyen Gabriel fouling out while Fox and Monk each had four.
Kentucky was murdered on the glass, losing the battle 54-29 and allowing 17 of the 54 rebounds to be offensive. They also shot just 37% from the field and 60% from the free throw line. The 88 points given up to the Gators were the third-most allowed by Kentucky all season.
This weekend, however, Kentucky will be at home. Which we all know is a totally different story. The Wildcats have lost just twice at home this season, both in grinding losses to #2 Kansas and #11 UCLA.
Kentucky averages 99 points at home while Florida averages just 81 on the road. Monk is a player of the year candidate when playing on the Rupp Arena hardwood. The Wildcats, as a team, are also quite more efficient. While one of Calipari’s six losses at home has been by the hands of Florida (2014), I don’t see Kentucky bowing down.
It should be known that Florida is on a nine-game win streak, including their win over Kentucky. Kentucky has won five in a row, and their last loss came at Florida. Also, both teams are tied for the lead in the SEC standings. If the Cats win, they would control their own destiny for the #1 seed in the SEC Tournament.
The Wildcats will need to execute their game plan of controlling the glass and tempo, as well as stay out of foul trouble if they want to defeat the Gators. Behind a motivated coach & eager young roster, along with the best home crowd in college basketball, they’ll get the job done.