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Kentucky Basketball falls to Florida Gators: 4 things to know, box score and postgame banter

The Cats fought hard but came up just short.

NCAA Basketball: Florida at Kentucky Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

The Kentucky Wildcats played a true grind-it-out game tonight against the Florida Gators. Both teams played sloppy, but one had to come out as the winner, and unfortunately for the Cats, it was the Gators who came out victorious, 66-64.

This game had huge implications in the SEC, as Florida just took a big step forward in the standings as we head into the second half of SEC play.

Here are four things to know:

PJ Washington has turned up his defensive intensity.

PJ came to the game with one mission tonight: lock down his opponent. It seemed like every time his opponent got the ball, Washington made sure he had no room to breathe. This team is strongly lacking an intimidating interior defender. PJ could be that guy.

This not only elevated PJ’s play, but it inspired others on the floor to play tougher too. When PJ plays like this it gives the entire team an extra boost of energy that propels them to play better on the defensive side of the ball. We saw that tonight with Florida struggling from the floor all night, shooting 22-62 from the field.

Wenyen Gabriel is becoming the everything-man for this team.

As we get further and further in the season, Wenyen is proving to be the kind of player that will make every play possible to win the game. In the first half he had a bolt of offensive production when he scored seven in a row to keep the Cats in the game.

Throughout the game Wenyen continued to make the effort plays, get 50/50 balls, cause jump balls, etc. Gabriel gives this team a player that is committed to doing whatever it takes to put this team in a good spot. If he can continue to impress his offensive game, he’ll become one of the best players on the team and a future NBA prospect.

Jarred Vanderbilt gives this team a jolt of energy when he comes on the court.

This is the second game that we’ve been able to see Jarred Vanderbilt in action. He played a lot more fluid in tonight's game, showing everyone a little more of what he can bring to the table.

Every time Jarred comes on the court, the team just looked better. As soon as he gets on he’s running the floor, playing intense in-your-face defense, and he excites the rest of the team. The improvement of this team lies on Jared's shoulder, if he can get in a groove towards the end of the season, watch out.

Nick Richards finally played like a big man.

As of late, Nick hasn’t been playing anywhere near his potential. As a result, we’ve see his minutes take a significant drop. With that being said, he made a huge stride in his play tonight.

All game he played physical, aggressive, and unwilling to let anyone else grab aboard from him. We haven’t seen him play like this in quite some time, so it’s good to see Nick get back into his natural style of play.

Here is the final box score:

Now, let’s discuss what’s up with the Cats.