The Kentucky Wildcats floated into a Swamp in Florida to wrap up the regular season in basketball against the Florida Gators. It is always tough when you venture into the swamp infested waters of Gainesville to face the Gators and prior to the game, the Gators were ready to attack.
Any individual who has spent time around Gators knows how to survive a Gator attack and the Wildcats did everything they were supposed to do to round out the regular season.
When facing a Gator you must run fast.
It is an old fairy tale that says you must zig zag when close to a gator. Every time you zig or zag you cross right back into the striking zone. The best way to face a Gator is to run straight and fast.
On the court, the Cats were at their best when they were running straight and fast. Wheeler seemed to have bounced back nicely from his injuries and turned up the speed pushing the ball against Florida. All season long, the Wildcats have been better when they are moving up and down the court, slashing, driving, and keeping the intensity on the opponent’s defense. Mintz and Grady also kept the pressure on. Washington still seems to be a step or two slow as he bounces back from being hurt, hopefully he will continue to improve as we move into tournament time.
The Gators were simply slower than Kentucky and could not keep up.
When battling a Gator go for the snout.
Every time the Gators made a run, Kentucky was able to punch back. So much so that even in the closing minutes of the game, while Florida seemed to be chomping away at the deficit, the game was never really in doubt because Kentucky always seemed to be able to pop the Gators with just what they needed to maintain the lead.
When wrestling with a Gator, hold the mouth shut.
A Gator has incredible chomping power but if you can get your hands on their mouth, they don’t have the strength to open their jaws.
Kentucky did a great job this past weekend keeping the Gators wrapped up and not allowing the snapping end of the Gator to go wild. In the ebb and flow of a game where UK jumped out quick, for every moment when the Gators seemed to be finding some life, it was usually squelched by finding Tshiebwe in the middle where the Gators had no answer or no way to stop Oscar from scoring or clearing the boards.
If a Gator gets too close, roll with it.
Gators love to attack and then drown a predator with a death roll. When and if that happens, don’t panic. If you can roll with the gator, it takes so much energy for the gator to roll over this way, that usually you can survive and put some distance between you. That is exactly what Kentucky did against Florida, every single time the Gators took a bite and tried to roll – the Cats rode out the wave and when it was over, stepped back up and thwarted the attack.
When the splashing stopped, Kentucky had beaten the Gators 71-63 to close out the season before the SEC Tournament this week, back in Florida (not Gainesville, but further south in Tampa)
Is the team ready for the March run?
Well, they have to be – the time is here. Coach Calipari evaluated his team like this after the Florida game.
“We’ve got four point guards. You’ve got Sahvir, Ty Ty, Davion, and Kellan. You’ve got four point guards and many times, three of them are on the court at the same time. And then you’ve got the beast in the middle. (This of course is Oscar Tshiebwe) You’ve got the long athletic kids. You’ve got Lance, who’s a beast and will battle and you’ve got Daimion, when he’s ready and healthy and we’ve all seen Bryce do his thing. We’ve got a full roster.”
So now the team turns their attention from the Gators to a bigger prize…the SEC and the NCAA…but hunting Gator was a good tune up for the weeks ahead.