Gators Had No Answers for Kentucky

It started out well for the Gators on Tuesday night in Lexington. After a quick 6-0 run to start the game, it went downhill in a hurry. Kentucky took some time to get going on both ends of the floor, but when the Wildcats did, there wasn't anything the Gators could do but get out of the way. Kentucky had four players in double figures as it cruised to its 49th straight home win in a 78-58 victory.

"The first ten minutes of the game went exactly how we wanted it to go," Florida head coach Billy Donovan said on his postgame radio show. "We were pressing and we got a couple steals. They beat the press a couple times and made a couple layups. I thought we got into taking some careless shots at the basket that got blocked."

Kentucky guard Doron Lamb hit a three-pointer just before the buzzer at the end of the first half, giving the Wildcats a 12-point lead at the half. When the ball was thrown into play to start the second half, things got worse for the Gators. Patric Young scored a quick four points to open the half before the Wildcats went on a 9-0 run and wouldn't look.

The Wildcats biggest lead was 21 points, but it felt like the game was stuck near that number the entire second half.

"It was just our offensive frustration," Donovan said about the second half struggles. "Some of it had to do with Kentucky, but a lot of it had to do with us and our approach of how we needed to attack them. As we got down a little more and more, we became more rushed and took less high percentage shots as time went on."

Donovan specifically noted his team's struggles with tip ins, lay ups and put backs around the rim. The force of Kentucky center Anthony Davis looked to have something to do with that. The freshman came into Tuesday averaging just under five blocks a game, and he recorded four against Florida.

Even when he wasn't getting his hands on shots, his presence under the hoop did plenty of damage.

The Wildcats didn't have that problem. Kentucky shot 51.7% from the floor, including 9-15 (60%) from behind the three-point line. That was supposed to be Florida's specialty, but the Gators went 6-27 (22.2%) from distance.

"They made some shots," Donovan said. "When you're getting stops on defense and out in transition while the other team is having a hard time scoring, that just fuels confidence. When you're missing shots, a lot of times it takes away from your defensive intensity. We made some bad decisions on plays that enabled them to make some shots."

After playing well in recent games and looking like he was breaking out of his struggles, senior point guard Erving Walker didn't play well at Kentucky. He went 0-4 from the floor and failed to get on the scoreboard. He had just one assist, coming on a pass to Young for a dunk early in the second half, and turned the ball over twice.

"I love Erving and he has had an incredible career. Not to put too much on his shoulders because he has meant a lot to our program, but it's really hard to function and play on the road," Donovan said. "When we've gone against an Ohio State, we had a very difficult time when he didn't play well. Tonight, he really, really struggled. It's hard to overcome that.

"I'm not saying we would've beat Kentucky if Erv would've made a few shots. The ball really needed to get to certain places at certain times, and it never quite got there."

The Gators now have to move on quickly before facing another rival, Tennessee, on Saturday. Florida gets Wednesday off practice before getting back to action on Thursday and Friday in preparation for hosting the Volunteers.

"We've got to regroup here," Donovan said. "More than anything else, I wish we could practice tomorrow just to get back at it, but we've got to take tomorrow off. These guys will have a chance to sit on this a little bit, and hopefully we'll come back ready to improve."


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