It was a bittersweet game for the Kentucky Wildcats, as they managed to take down the Florida Gators 78-57 but lost TyTy Washington to a potentially serious injury. Jacob Toppin missed the game due to injury as well.
Thanks to a big day from Oscar Tshiebwe, Kentucky was able to overcome a sluggish first half and the injury to Washington in the second half. The Wildcats are now 20-4 overall and 10-2 in SEC play.
Overall, it was a good performance for Kentucky against a Florida team that desperately needs a win like this to make the NCAA Tournament.
Up next, Kentucky is on the road next Tuesday for a rematch with the Tennessee Volunteers.
Here is what you need to know from today’s game.
Kentucky may be the best team in the country from tipoff until the first TV timeout. The running and gunning of Sahvir Wheeler to open the game causes plenty of missed assignments by the defense, which in this game, led to three Kellan Grady three-pointers. After his second one, Gators coach Mike White took a timeout two minutes into the game.
The hot start was followed up by a disastrous final 15 minutes, due to the adjustments made by Florida, switching to a zone defense. The Wildcats went cold from three and Florida managed to hit a few shots that should not, or should have, gone in.
Kentucky managed to whether the rest of the half after taking a 20-6 lead in the first five minutes and went into the halftime break up 33-28.
The Fast Break
Jimmy Dykes said Kentucky was the best team in the country when they get out into the fastbreak, and it may be true. The ability to have shooters all over the floor compared with the fastest big man in the country in Oscar Tshiebwe, Kentucky has options all over the floor when it comes time to run the floor.
Kentucky was abusing the Gators out in the fastbreak and is what led to a 20-6 lead after the first TV timeout.
A bad shot or turnover against this Kentucky team could mean bad news for their opponent.
TyTy Washington Injury
Midway through the second half, a Florida player dove for a loose ball and ending up landing on TyTy Washington’s knee. Washington got up fairly quickly, but hopped off the floor on one foot and looked visibly frustrated.
The importance of Washington cannot be understated and if he is out for any extended period of time, that could be bad news for Kentucky. It certainly looked bad enough to assume he’ll be out at least next week at Tennessee, which looks a lot more challenging now after the Cats made easy work of the Vols last month with a healthy roster.
He remained in the locker room/in the back for the remainder of the game before team announced he would not return due to a lower-leg injury.
Oscar Tshiebwe had another dominating performance today, as he went for 27 points and 18 rebounds, as the Gators simply had no answer for the junior big man.
Tshiebwe was Kentucky’s go-to on the offensive front, as Colin Castleton could not contain the big man on the glass, or in the paint. It was Tshiebwe’s seventh straight double-double and just another notch to go on his “National-Player-of-the-Year” belt.
As long as Tshiebwe stays healthy, a massive if with this team, he’s a near-lock to win SEC Player of the Year and will remain at or near the top of the POY awards races.
Now, let’s discuss what happened today.