All Things Considered Not a Bad Day

Granted everyone who cares about the Florida basketball team wanted to see the Gators beat Kentucky in Rupp Arena and take another step towards the SEC Title. But that didn't happen.

The Gators, who had the best foul differential in the SEC entering the game fouled Kentucky seven more times than the Wildcats hacked the Gators contributing to a 76-68 Kentucky win.

No, I'm not blaming the officiating; I'm just pointing out a fact. Another fact is that Kentucky made 52 percent of its shots and 50 percent from the three-point line. Those facts had a lot more to do with the outcome in Lexington than the foul discrepancy.

Another significant fact is that the Gator bench failed to show up. Florida's reserves played 46 minutes and scored just three points while committing three turnovers. Add to that the six fouls from the guys who don't start and you have a glaring weakness in Florida's performance. You simply cannot hope to win at Rupp when you get so little from so many.

Still, the day wasn't all that bad for the Gators. Pragmatic Gator fans would admit they didn't really expect Florida to be the first opponent to win at Rupp this year. It's disappointing for sure, but not the end of the world. Just as significant – if not more so -- is the fact that Alabama lost to Ole Miss in Oxford. The Crimson Tide's 68-63 setback leaves ‘Bama and Florida tied for the lead in the SEC with one week to play.

Showdown in the O'Dome Tuesday Night

When the season began back in November no one could have asked for anything more than this: Florida will host Alabama in the home finale with a chance to win the SEC Title. It's the pupil (Anthony Grant) versus his mentor (Billy Donovan). It's the dominant football programs in the SEC meeting up for a title on the hardwood. The winner clinches at least a share of the SEC Championship, while the loser has to win its final game and hope the other team loses in order to earn a piece of the trophy.

Tuesday was already going to be special. Senior Day for Chandler Parsons, Alex Tyus and Vernon Macklin marks the end of the three careers in the O'Dome that combined for over 3,200 points and 1,800 rebounds. It also marks the end of one of the most interesting home seasons in school history that saw the Gators lose to Jacksonville, but beat the likes of Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Tennessee, Georgia and Arkansas among others.

But now, the final home game of the 2010-11 season is now a chance for the Gators to win just the fifth SEC Championship in school history. It could be shared, but so what? In all these years in the SEC, Florida has just two outright SEC Titles and shared two others. The outright titles (1989, 2007) sure didn't seem any more special than the shared ones (2000, 2001). Topping the SEC standings in a any sport is special, but doing it in basketball where Florida is only a recent addition to the list of the leagues top programs is even more so.

Tuesday night, the O'Connell Center should be as loud and as packed as it has ever been. The opportunity to win an SEC Title at home doesn't come along very often and should not be taken for granted. The pupil is a great guy who is doing an outstanding job in Tuscaloosa, but it's time for the mentor to remind him he has a few more tricks up his sleeve.

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