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UK Basketball: 4 takeaways and postgame notes from tough loss to Florida

Kentucky takes a rare loss at Rupp to the Florida Gators

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

That game was about as frustrating a game I have watched in a long time.

It wasn’t a game that had much flow and neither team was playing very well. Kentucky looked ready to run away with it and Florida came back and it looked lost and then hope was raised just to have it ripped away in the end.

Also, to make the day even worse for the BBN, top 3 recruit Zion Williamson committed to Duke right before the game started.

Right from the tip both teams were struggling and with just over 14 minutes left in the half it was Florida with a 10-8 lead.

Each team would go on runs with Kentucky building an 8-point lead 28-20 before Florida battled back. The teams went into the break with the Gators leading 33-31.

Florida ended the half on a run and started the second half just like they ended the first. Florida jumped out to a 45-37 lead at the first media timeout.

However, Kentucky would battle back and with just under 8 minutes to play the Gator lead was just one 51-50. Late in the game, it looked like it was all over, but back to back threes by Kevin Knox and Wenyen Gabriel cut the lead to two.

Kentucky got the ball back with a chance to win, but two obvious fouls were not called, and the Cats lost at Rupp, 66-64.

Thoughts on the game

Nobody played particularly well

Kentucky only had two players get into double figures with points. Shai and Wenyen both with 10. For this team to reach its potential Knox and Diallo must be the best players on the floor and lead this team like we all thought they would. Overall, Kentucky didn’t have a single standout performer like they have had most games this season.

Defensive play was great

Although the offensive performance was not up to par the defense showed up. For most of this season defense has been an issue for these young Cats but not in this game. Kentucky did an excellent job of defending the three-point line, taking away Florida’s main strength on offense. The Cats held Florida to 33% from the field but didn’t help themselves by shooting 40%.

Turnovers killed Kentucky

Kentucky finished the game with 16 total turnovers and some of the bad shots the Cats took might as well have been turnovers. While Kentucky gave up the ball, Florida was taking care of it, only giving it away 7 times. Kentucky also made most of those turnovers in the second half which is when you need to be playing your best. This played a big role in us losing the game down the stretch.

Cats need to create more contact

Kentucky only went to the free throw line 12 times in this game and converted on 8 of them. 12 trips are not near as many as we should have with as athletic and big as we are. Florida went to the line 25 times and we should be up around those numbers every game easily. Going forward, Kentucky needs to do a better job of getting fouled and getting to the line. The Catson don’t need to shy away from the contact.

Here are the postgame notes, courtesy of UK Athletics:

Team Records and Series Notes

  • Kentucky is 14-5 overall and 4-3 in the Southeastern Conference. Florida is 14-5 overall, 6-1 in league play.
  • Kentucky leads the series 100-39, including 51-10 in games played in Lexington.
  • Kentucky finishes the two-game homestand Tuesday at 9 p.m. vs. Mississippi State. The game will be televised on ESPN.

In the First Half

  • Kentucky’s starting lineup featured Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Hamidou Diallo, PJ Washington, Kevin Knox and Nick Richards for the sixth time this season. UK is 4-2 with this lineup.
  • The game was evenly played until the Wildcats went on a 7-0 run to create a 28-20 gap.
  • However, at that point the Cats went cold – no field goals in the final five minutes of the half – and Florida finished with a 13-3 run to take a 33-31 advantage at intermission.
  • UK is 4-3 this season when trailing at halftime.

In the Second Half

  • Florida came out hot and extended its lead to 45-37, forcing a UK timeout at 15:24.
  • Kentucky extended its streak of 1,032 consecutive games with a 3-pointer when Diallo connected with 8:08 left in the game.
  • UK went ahead 56-53 on a GIlgeous-Alexander 3-pointer with 5:35 to go.
  • Florida responded with an 11-2 run to ahead 64-58.
  • Kentucky hit a pair of 3-pointers in the final minute to draw within 66-64.
  • After a Florida missed free throw, UK had a chance to tie or win on the final possession but Florida blocked two shots and got a steal to hang on to the win.

Team Notes

  • Kentucky had a pair of home winning streaks broken tonight. UK had won 16 in a row at Rupp Arena and won 30 consecutive games against SEC opponents.
  • UK outrebounded Florida 49-38. This is the first time this season UK won despite winning the rebounding. The Wildcats are 13-1 this season when winning the battle of the boards.
  • UK is 41-9 under Coach John Calipari in bounce-back games after losses, including 3-1 this season. This is the first time this season UK has lost consecutive games.
  • ESPN’s popular traveling show, College GameDay, was broadcast from Rupp Arena this morning. It’s the 15th time that GameDay has hosted from a UK game, including the seventh time at Rupp Arena.
  • UK will be involved in back-to-back GameDays next week as the road show makes its way to Morgantown for UK’s game Jan. 27 at West Virginia.

Player Notes

  • Shai Gilgeous-Alexander had 10 points and led the Wildcats with six assists.
  • Nick Richards scored eight points and led the Wildcats with nine rebounds.
  • Wenyen Gabriel came off the bench to score 10 points and collect seven rebounds.
  • After a three-game absence because of injury, Quade Green returned to action. He played 17 minutes and totaled two points and two assists.

Coach John Calipari

  • Calipari has a 708-198 all-time on-court record.
  • Calipari is now 263-58 at Kentucky, tying Orlando “Tubby” Smith for third-most wins as a Kentucky coach.
  • Calipari is 145-7 at Rupp Arena, including 127-4 against unranked opponents.
  • Calipari is 15-7 vs. Florida in his career.