Gators Come Up Short in Lexington

Whenever Kentucky went on a run in the second half, the Gators couldn't answer. The Wildcats were hot from behind the three-point line in the second half and pulled away down the stretch behind the scoring of junior guard Darius Miller. Kentucky was hot from the field throughout the game and ran away from No. 13 Florida at Rupp Arena late for a 76-68 victory.

"They shot the ball well and made some tough shots," Florida head coach Billy Donovan said on his post game radio show. "I thought Miller was the difference for their team and gave them a great boost with the way he shot the ball. We talked about him, Lamb and Harrellson, and they're kind of the x-factors for the team."

Whenever the Wildcats needed a big shot, it was Miller that delivered. Freshmen Brandon Knight and Terrence Jones have been the go-to players this season when Kentucky needed points, but Miller delivered when needed on Saturday.

The junior went 9-for-15 from the field and 2-for-4 from behind the three-point line for 24 points and seemed to extinguish any run Florida tried to make.

Kentucky shot 48.3% from the field in the first half and finished the game shooting 51.7%. Florida tried to put multiple runs together during the game, but a tie at 41 was the last time the Gators would have a chance at the lead.

"Overall, we just didn't play good enough defense," Donovan said. "I thought our offense was okay. It just came down to the defensive end."

Florida has experienced success this season in the paint, but the Wildcats dominated that area on Saturday. Kentucky, led by Josh Harrellson's 12 boards, outrebounded the Gators and had seven blocks compared to Florida's one. Six of Harrellson's rebounds came on the offensive glass. The Wildcats outscored the Gators in the paint 36-26.

Florida's starting frontcourt of Alex Tyus and Vernon Macklin combined for 19 points and seven rebounds, shooting 9-for-19 from the field.

Kenny Boynton led the Gators with 21 points after going 5-for-9 from behind the three-point line. He created in the paint early in the game and forced Kentucky to respect the drive, giving him open looks at three-pointers as the game wore on.

Chandler Parsons had 15 points, eight rebounds and seven assists for the Gators in his first start since suffering the deep thigh bruise. The senior also led the team with 37 minutes.

Florida's only bench player to shoot the ball was Erik Murphy, who hit a big three-pointer in the first half and had a hook shot blocked by Jones in the second half. His two shots were the only ones that came from the bench.

"We scored 68 points and a lot of that is misleading because with a few minutes to go they got up by six or eight points and really milked the shot clock down," Donovan said. "They got back some offensive rebounds and then the game got shortened. We ended up having a hard time because it put a lot of pressure on all of our possessions."

Kentucky's ability to keep Florida out of the game came after not turning the ball over. The Wildcats had four turnovers in the first half, but they had only two in the second half and kept the Gators from easy fast break points.

Alabama also lost on Saturday at Ole Miss, setting up an SEC Championship game in Gainesville on Tuesday night at 7 p.m.

"They're a good team. (Anthony Grant) has done a great job and I'm very proud of him, just from where they were at to where they are now," Donovan said. "He deserves a lot of credit. They've got a good team."


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