Feb 15, 2014 11:25 PM
The atmosphere was electric inside Rupp Arena as #14 UK hosted #3 Florida. The Gators leading the SEC with a two game cushion over the Wildcats.
If the importance of the game was bothering the young Wildcats starting line-up, it didn't show. UK jumped out to a quick 7-2 lead including a three pointer and baseline jumper from James Young.
Florida would throw the next punch going on an 8-0 run behind five points from Casey Pratcher. Then UK would score the next five.
After falling behind 19-16 going into the under eight minute timeout, Julius Randle calmly knocked down a three pointer from straight away. That would tie it back up at 19.
By the time the under 4 minute timeout arrived, UK was shooting 9-17 and had 6 assists on those made baskets. But, Florida was struggling with a 37% clip from the field on 9-of-26. That included 1-8 from behind the three point line.
The Rupp crowd erupted on the final UK basket of the half when Julius Randle was all alone for a huge two-handed slam.
UK leading 31-28 at the half. Randle with a team-high 10 points and 6 rebounds. James Young has 9 and Andrew Harrison has added 8 points. Florida is led by Casey Prather's 12.
The second half, the Gators must have gotten Billy Donovan's message. They started the half on an 8 -3 run thanks to Casey Prather and Scotie Wilbekin. One play, Wilbekin went behind-the-back to Prather for a lay-up. Gators led 36-34.
James Young was hitting at the start of the 2nd. Two three pointers and a lay-up and UK was back in front 39-36. Andrew Harrison then took over to hit two free throws, a pull up and a rebound putback to give the Wildcats a 45-38 lead.
Just after UK had taken a 48-47 lead, an odd situation. Coach Calipari had been working an official pretty hard. He walked away to talk with another official and the first gave him a technical. Wilbekin hit two free throws for a 49-47 lead. Then, another Prather lay-up and it was 51-47.
UK never led again. Andrew Harrison hit a wide-open 15 footer to tie it at 53. But, Florida was tough down the stretch at the free throw line. Going 15-of-17 in the second half.
UK was led by 20 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists. James Young added 19 and Julius Randle had 13 points, 13 rebounds. UK falls to 19-and-6 overall, 9-and-3 in the SEC.