Gators travel to Rupp to face Kentucky

They are the benchmark team I SEC basketball just about very season. When you play the Kentucky Wildcats you know you are going to play some of the best all-around talent in the country.  That is no different this year and Florida has to head to 24,000 seat Rupp arena to take on the giant Saturday.

Florida Gators (15-7, 6-3 SEC) @ #20/19 Kentucky Wildcats (16-6, 6-3 SEC)

Saturday, February 6, 2016; 4 p.m.

Lexington, Kentucky; Rupp Arena


With more McDonald’s All-Americans than most NBA teams, the Kentucky Wildcats are yet again a significant foe that the Gators must face in 2016. A team that is in annual transition with the amount of players that head early for the professional ranks, Kentucky sometimes starts out the season a little slower and loses a game or two that they shouldn’t. Then about time for the SEC season or a few games in, the inexperience factor isn’t one anymore.

By this time of year, the Wildcats are usually about as good as they are going to get and there is usually plenty for the Gators to face on Saturday and on the road.

“It’s a significant home court advantage of course,” Florida head coach Mike White said Friday. “And Kentucky’s always good. You have to bring your ‘A’ game just to be competitive up there.”

“They can compete with anyone in the country. They had a real chance to win at Kansas. You have to be really good to be in a position to do that. Have a chance to win our league and every year they do. I don’t care if they’ve won eight in a row or lost the last two, its Kentucky at Kentucky.”

The Wildcats have lost two in a row, both road games at Kansas and at Tennessee. The Gators didn’t fare well either at Tennessee having their worst outing of the season playing the Vols. Kansas is a top 10 team this year and the Vols can just make some teams look ugly. In this instance, Kentucky saw a 21-point lead disappear and turn into a seven point loss. This might be a slower developing team than Kentucky’s John Calipari is used to.

That doesn’t mean they are lacking in talent though. Point guard Tyler Ulis is the guy that makes them go and he is absolutely terrific.

“Transition defense is really big in this one,” White said of the diminutive point guard that doesn’t know how to slow down. “Ulis in space is just so good with his quickness and ability to make others better and really his own ability to pull up and create his own offense or in the paint and draw fouls, and make jump shots.  He’s extremely quick. He’s a little guy with an incredible motor that is tough to stop.



Florida Projected Starters

Ht. / Wt.



F Dorian Finney-Smith (SR)

6-8, 220



C John Egbunu (SO)

6-11, 255



G Kasey Hill (JR)

6-1, 180



G KeVaughn Allen (FR)

6-2, 183



G Chris Chiozza (SO)

6-0, 175




Kentucky Projected Starters




F Alex Poythress (SR)

6-8, 230



F Derek Willis (JR)

6-9, 220



G Tyler Ulis (JR)

5-9, 160



G Isaiah Briscoe (FR)

6-3, 202



G Jamal Murray (FR)

6-4, 207



Ulis is just a piece of the puzzle on a team that annually has so much talent.

“I think they all complement each other so well,” White said of the Wildcat roster. “They have Ulis who is such a facilitator and everything. He’s the glue and their most valuable guy. Murray is such a good scorer and such a good shooter. My opinion from watching on film is Briscoe brings something a little different.  He’s so good at getting to the rim and drawing fouls. He’s a big tough strong, physical guy. They have a really good backcourt.”

Then of course there is Calipari. He’s 206-44 and in his 7th year at Kentucky, averaging more than 30 wins a year. He’s also 12-5 against the Gators and he and the Wildcats rarely lose at Rupp.

“His numbers are gaudy, especially at home of course,” He’s won a bunch of games. It’s obviously going to be a special challenge for us. It’s hard to win on the road. We haven’t had any easy opportunities on the road. We’ve had a really tough schedule and here comes another one for us.”

Florida has enjoyed some recent success offensively, albeit most of that in the friendly confines of the O’Connell Center in Gainesville. White needs his team focused on defense first, their specialty, and not have one of those terribly off nights on offense that has happened too often.  He knows they need to not get off to a slow start.  

“First of all we need to make sure we are competitive,” White said. “We want to make sure we go into halftime within striking distance.”



Fightin Gators Top Stories