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Kentucky vs. Florida viewing info, odds, what to watch for, and predictions

Everything you need for Round 2 of Wildcats vs. Gators.

Aaron Bradshaw. Huddle. Drew Brown - A Sea Of Blue

Kentucky Wildcats Basketball vs. Florida Gators

  • Time: 8:00 PM EST on January 31st.
  • Location: Rupp Arena at Central Bank Center in Lexington, Kentucky.
  • TV Channel: ESPN has tonight’s TV coverage.
  • Announcers: Karl Ravech, Jay Bilas, and Marty Smith will call the action for ESPN.
  • Online Stream: Stream the game online with WatchESPN and the ESPN app.
  • Radio: Tom Leach and Jack Givens have the UK Sports Radio Network call.
  • Replay: WatchESPN and SEC Network (check local listings).
  • Rosters: UK | FLA
  • Stats to Know: UK | FLA
  • KenPom: UK | FLA
  • Team Sheet: UK | FLA

Send us your predictions for tonight’s game in the comments section!


The Kentucky Wildcats are returning to Rupp Arena for a two-game home stand, starting with a Wednesday clash with the Florida Gators. This will be the second regular-season matchup between the two teams, with the Wildcats beating the Gators in a close one in Gainesville, in their SEC opener, 87-85, so Kentucky is going for the season sweep.

The last two games for Kentucky have been...something, to say the least. They put up their worst performance of the season against South Carolina, who has since won at No. 5 Tennessee to take some sting out of that defeat, and followed it up with a first half where they scored just 24 points against Arkansas.

Thankfully, the Wildcats played what was likely their best defense of the year against the Razorbacks and showed a lot of maturity to get that win in a thunderous College GameDay environment. Arkansas has what’s easily among college basketball’s best homecourt crowds for big games like Kentucky, so that was a good win, even if the Hogs are having a down season.

The Gators have won three straight, which is currently the second-longest streak in the SEC. That said, they are a team that struggles on the road, with just a 1-3 record and an average margin of defeat of 15.3 points.

Kentucky has beaten Florida in 10 of the last 11 matchups, including four of the last five in Lexington. The last time Florida won in Rupp Arena was in 2021 during the COVID season.

Let’s take a look at what to watch for in Round 2 of Wildcats vs. Gators.

Rebound, Rebound, Rebound

Just like the first matchup, rebounding will be a major factor. Florida is still the best rebounding team in the country, averaging more than 44.5 per game. In their last game against Georgia, they outrebounded them by 21.

For comparison, Kentucky only outrebounded Georgia by one in their win over them earlier this month.

In the win in Gainesville, Kentucky lost the rebounding battle 43-40. The Gators grabbed 11 offensive boards, a big reason they had every chance to win down the stretch before the Wildcats came out of there with a much-needed road W.

Kentucky has been a middle-of-the-road rebounding team this season, ranked seventh in the SEC. That said, the Cats certainly have the size to rebound well, but at times lack the desire and physicality, both areas they have shown improvement in of late. Kentucky’s big men will have to get Micah Handlogten out of position, who grabbed six offensive rebounds in the first matchup.

Defensive Consistency

As bad as last week’s performances were for Kentucky on offense, the strides in defense could be seen, holding opponents to under 41% shooting in back-to-back games for the first time this season.

Their defensive KenPom rating also jumped 20+ spots, but can they keep it up against the 13th-most efficient offense in the country?

Kentucky will first have to stop Florida in transition, which is where they were successful in Gainesville and gained a lot of their momentum. If they’re in that regard, then it’s about fighting through screens and staying between the ball and the basket when Florida gets in their half-court sets. That said, Walter Clayton and Will Richard are two of the best shooters in the SEC.

If Kentucky plays with the communication and urgency they have shown of late, it will show that they are trending in the right direction.

Lineups

In his weekly call-in show, John Calipari talked about why he played so many lineups last week. “Play everybody in the first half and figure out who needs to play in this game,” he said. While he acknowledges February is here, and there is not much practice time left, he finally has a full roster and is looking for some combinations and lineups that work.

The one lineup that Calipari mentioned several times was DJ Wagner-Reed Sheppard-Antonio Reeves-Tre Mitchell-Ugonna Onyenso. They were “REALLY good,” Calipari stated, even saying that this might be Kentucky’s best defensive/finishing lineup right now.

It is clear that Wagner-Sheppard-Reeves-Mitchell is the base of the lineup right now, with the fifth rotating depending on the matchup and it will be interesting to see who challenges and cements themself there.

It also appears Rob Dillingham will make his return after missing the win over Arkansas, so Calipari will have some tough decisions to make with his best lineups down the stretch of close games.

Opposing Players to Watch

G Walter Clayton Jr, 6-2, 195 lbs

  • 15.9 PPG (8th in SEC)
  • 3.8 RPG
  • 2.8 APG
  • 44 3PM (T-7th in SEC)

G Zyon Pullin, 6-4, 206 lbs

  • 14.9 PPG (14th in SEC)
  • 4.8 APG (2nd in SEC)
  • 3.6 RPG
  • 38.1% 3P (T-12th SEC)

G Riley Kugel, 6-5, 207 lbs (In three career games vs Kentucky)

  • 15 PPG
  • 48.2% FG
  • 50% 3P
  • 1.7 SPG