Before we dive into the game, we need to mention what a cool moment it was to see Keyontae Johnson take the floor for a ceremonial opening tip. As his recovery continues, here is to hoping to see him take the court at some point in the future.
Now, let’s dive into the game.
The key early was pace.
Kentucky was the better team in this matchup, and they flexed their muscles early by doing the thing they do best; transition offense. Add in the efficient scoring through the first 15 minutes of the first half, and that's what led the Cats to a 38-26 lead going into the half.
The Gators would not go away, though. With their NCAA tournament hopes hanging on by a thread, Mike White has his team ready to fight till the very end. After making a few runs to make it to where the Cats could never quite get comfortable, the poise of the Kentucky veterans helped keep it out of reach.
One of the big question marks for many coming into this game: Could the Kentucky defense return to form?
If today's performance is any indication, it definitely has.
Florida is not an elite offensive team, but they do have athletic pieces across the board to go alongside Colin Castleton in the post. This Kentucky team answered the call, and put together an impressive defensive performance as they held the Gators to 63 points on 41% shooting, and 15% from three-point range.
Alongside a solid defensive performance, the Cats proved once again to be elite on offense. Oscar Tshiebwe once again dominated the Gators in the paint, while he also got some help on the outside from Davion Mintz, Kellan Grady, and especially Sahvir Wheeler. The starting point guard finished the game with 13 points on 6-10 shooting from the field. He also added four assists and two rebounds.
Today’s game once again proved that this team is going to be a tough out in March, especially once they get a complete performance from the whole squad.
With today’s win the Wildcats will be the 3 seed in Tampa next week and will play the late Friday night game. Check back later tonight for a full SEC Tournament bracket and info on who Kentucky could face next week.
Should be a fun one. Go Cats!
This one was rather easy to choose. It’s Oscar. He is the National Player of the Year, and it shouldn't even be that close when the votes are counted.
He finished the afternoon with his 13th straight double-double as he posted 27 points on 11-16 shooting from the field, while also adding 15 rebounds.
Oscar has turned into a generational type of college player. He is incredibly efficient on offense, has turned into a solid defender on both levels, and there isn't much more we can say in regards to his rebounding.
With a player like Oscar, Kentucky is one of the best teams in the country. If he can continue to get a few free-throw line jumpers to go and execute close to the basket, it is shaping up to be a really special run for these Wildcats.