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Kentucky rallies past Florida: 4 things to know & postgame cheers

The Wildcats utilize a strong second half to rally from a 11-point deficit and down the Gators.

NCAA Basketball: Kentucky at Florida Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Playing as good of basketball as any team in the country, the Kentucky Wildcats took their seven-game winning streak down to Gainesville for a matchup against the Florida Gators.

Kentucky found themselves trailing 33-29 in the first half, mirroring recent struggles when traveling to Florida.

In the second half, their offense struggled to start but Kentucky’s defensive effort kept them close enough to muster a knockout punch. Fueled by a 14-0 run, the Wildcats sped ahead to take a 57-48 lead en route to a 65-54 victory.

Wildcats Overcome Adversity

It wasn’t pretty, but the Wildcats will take a win no matter the fashion. Tyler Herro saw early foul trouble and his team saw a halftime deficit.

Their struggles continued into the second half and it took the Wildcats until less than 10 minutes to click offensively. The Cats were actually down 42-31 at one point and seemed destined for another blowout loss in The Swamp.

But despite the adversity, Herro and PJ Washington led the Wildcats to the finish line where they captured their eighth-straight victory.

Kentucky’s win at Florida is one of their better this season, further propelling their case to emerge into Monday’s AP Top-five rankings, especially after Michigan lost on Friday.

Washington Continues to Dominate

PJ Washington had been on a tear over his previous three outings. He’d scored more than 20 points in each game and carried the team to three consecutive top-25 wins.

On Saturday, while he didn’t score 20 points, Washington posted a double-double of 15 points and 12 rebounds to bolster the Wildcats in the paint.

Washington continues to be Kentucky’s alpha-male, which is just what the doctor ordered.

Outside Shooting Goes Cold

Coming into Saturday’s matchup, Kentucky had executed a balanced blend of offense over their seven-game winning streak. However, as recent years have shown, the Wildcats struggled vastly when shooting the ball from behind the arc.

Kentucky shot just 3-14 threes in the first half, which is far from a winning formula. The Wildcats are one of the nation’s more dominant teams inside the painted area, yet relied on the outside shot that ultimately let them down in the first period.

For the second half, head coach John Calipari made it known that he wanted more emphasis put on attacking the rim. Kentucky took just seven shots from behind the arc and followed Calipari’s formula to victory.

It also helped that Florida struggled just as badly from deep, hitting 5-18.

Early Fouls Can’t Slow Herro’s Groove

Tyler Herro came out of the gate making all four of his shot attempts, including two from behind the arc. His 10 points had Kentucky out to an early lead and looked poised to take control of the game.

However, two fouls in the first half slowed his roll and shut him down for the remainder of the period.

While Herro took some time to get going in the second half, his nine points in the period were as timely as any for the Wildcats. Herro’s 19 points led the team in scoring and his shot-making should continue to be one of Kentucky’s best assets.

The Wildcats (18-3) will travel back to Lexington and prepare for a home matchup with the South Carolina Gamecocks (11-10). Tip-off is set for 7 pm EST on Tuesday night in Rupp Arena.