Rushed Reactions: #1 Kentucky 64, Florida 49

Posted by David Changas on March 13th, 2015


SEC Microsite writer David Changas is covering the SEC Tournament this week in Nashville.

Three Key Takeaways.

Big Blue Marched On to 32-0 in Nashville Today. (USA Today Images)

Big Blue Marched On to 32-0 in Nashville Today. (USA Today Images)

  1. Wildcats Pull Away Late. Florida held its own with Kentucky for about 32 minutes this afternoon, as the Gators only trailed by five points with 7:40 left in the game. From that point, the Wildcats went on a 15-4 run to finish off the Gators’ disappointing season. As in all of the close games that Kentucky has experienced this season, the Wildcats’ size, strength and depth eventually wore down Florida. Eventually their size and ability to force a long series of difficult shots makes scoring nearly impossible, and that is precisely what happened in Friday afternoon’s game-ending stretch.
  2. Florida Limited from the Perimeter. For the Gators to have pulled off the major upset today, they would have needed superb performances from their guards. While Eli Carter reached double figures with 11 points, Florida made only two threes on the afternoon, and its best shooter, Michael Frazier II, was virtually invisible. Frazier missed seven games down the stretch before returning last weekend so it is not fair to put too much blame on him, but he was an offensive non-factor with only two made free throws in 28 minutes of action. If the Gators were going to have a chance to make a serious run at Kentucky, they needed Frazier at his best. And even that probably wouldn’t have been enough.
  3. Kentucky Dominates the Offensive Glass. The Wildcats gathered over 45 percent of their misses on Friday, even after Florida had held them in check on that front early in the game. The Wildcats continue to show that they do not have to be a great offensive team in the half-court — they shot a chilly 37.5 percent from the floor on Friday — so long as their third-best offensive rebounding percentage (40.3%) nationally remains robust. The Wildcat’s continued success on the glass allowed them to make 19-of-23 free throws, while the Gators were only 3-of-5 on the day. Ultimately, that was the difference in the game.

Star of the Game. Karl-Anthony Towns, Kentucky. Stats hardly ever tell the story with Kentucky this season, and Friday’s game versus Florida was no different. Towns has been the Wildcats’ best player in the latter third of the year and he once again showed that he is the team’s best post presence, finishing the game with 13 points and 12 rebounds. He was especially assertive on the offensive end in the second half, as he scored nine of his points in that frame.


  • “But the one huge drastic difference was the free throw line and that was really ultimately the margin in the game. ” – Billy Donovan, on the disparity in fouls called.
  • “As a head coach I really fell short in getting them to see how important it was for them to play as a team.” – a very candid Donovan, on the selfishness of his team and its contribution to their failures this season.
  • ” The reality of it is, we didn’t play with as much energy as Florida played with to start the game. And they came in and I told them at halftime, ‘If that’s what we have in store, like that’s how we’re going to do this, we’re going to have some problems.'” – John Calipari, on why Kentucky got off to such a slow start.

Sights and Sounds. Bridgestone Arena seats just over 17,000 people. On Friday afternoon, about 16,500 of those in attendance we wearing blue. As usual, Kentucky fans have taken over the SEC Tournament, and with an undefeated record on the line, they’ve come out in even bigger numbers than usual. This was no more a neutral site game for the Wildcats than a game in Rupp Arena would have been.

What’s Next?

  • Kentucky will take on the winner of the Auburn/LSU game in the semifinals on Saturday. One of the Wildcats’ closest calls of the season came in Baton Rouge in early February as they held of the Tigers by a margin of three points. On the other hand, they blew out Auburn in Lexington. Either way, they almost certainly will enjoy another win to move to 33-0 on the year.
  • Florida ends the season with a very disappointing 16-18 record and will miss postseason play for the first time in 18 years, Donovan’s first season in Gainesville.
David Changas (166 Posts)

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