Gators Hoping to Keep UK From SEC Perfection

The Gators are all that stand in the way of No. 1 Kentucky running the table through SEC play. The Wildcats come into Sunday's game with a 29-1 record on the season, losing only on a buzzer beater at Indiana, and 15-0 in conference. Running the table through SEC play hasn't been done since Kentucky did in 2003. No. 13 Florida has the last chance to keep them from conference perfection on Sunday.

"It's always challenging, regardless of the league," Florida head coach Billy Donovan said. "They're a terrific team that has played very well. They're gifted and have good chemistry. They have length, size, shot blocking and guys that can shoot. They really have answers for just about anything you can throw at them.

"It has happened before, but it's not like it's something that is happening on a regular basis. It's a real hard feat."

Florida (22-8, 10-5 SEC) has to be careful on Sunday. With the loss of sophomore forward Will Yeguete, the Gators have struggled to rebound and have a presence in the paint. Center Patric Young is still hampered by an ankle injury and averaged 6.4 rebounds. Freshman guard Brad Beal is actually the team's leading rebounder, averaging 6.5 a game.

The Gators struggled to contain freshman center Anthony Davis in the first meeting between the teams, allowing him to collect 16 points, six rebounds and four blocked shots.

"He's as good of a shot blocker as I've seen in the league," Donovan said. "The thing that's deceptive about him is that he isn't 7-1 or 7-2, but he has very long arms and quick bounce off the floor. He becomes a lot longer than his height based on how quick he jumps off the floor and the length of his arms."

Florida's shots didn't fall from the outside in Lexington, as the Gators shot 34.9% from the field and 22.9% (6-27) from behind the three-point line. That has to change on Sunday for Florida to have a chance.

With Yeguete out, the Gators have become dependent on the perimeter shots going down.

"Our margin for error is not great," Donovan said. "Whether or not people feel like we have to make shots or not, there are still a lot of things we have to do better at. Pressing in a situation and not rotating correctly—those discipline sort of things. Our guys need to continue to grow and mature in that part of it."

The attention to detail for Florida wasn't good when the two teams met earlier this season. With the smaller margin of error now, it has to improve on Sunday. The Gators were down five points just minutes before halftime in the first meeting. However, the Florida defense had two breakdowns that gave Kentucky guard Doron Lamb two open three-pointers to push the lead to 11 points at halftime.

Those are the moments Donovan wants his team to correct. They'll be at a disadvantage for the rest of the season because of injuries, but the team can only make it harder on itself with lapses of focus.

"When you don't have a large margin for error in a game, you cannot have any possessions where you forget to block out or don't block out," Donovan said. "You can't give Gilchrist or Davis a free run (to the basket)."

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist had plenty of those in the first matchup. He burned the Gators in transition and got to the glass enough to pull down 13 rebounds to match his 13 points.

The talent on the Kentucky roster is scary. Davis and Kidd-Gilchrist will be taken early in the first round if they elect to leave school early, while Terrence Jones (12.1 points/6.7 rebounds), Lamb (13.5 points/3 rebounds) and Marquis Teague (9.7 points/4.7 assists) could also be taken highly if they head to the NBA.

Despite that, there is some question for the lone Gator senior about whether it's the best Kentucky team he has faced.

"It's close because they're really talented, but I think John Wall teams with DeMarcus Cousins, Patrick Patterson and Eric Bledsoe (were better)," Florida point guard Erving Walker said. "This is one of the best up there, but I can't say it's much better than the other teams."

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