Gators Fall in Lexington

Nick Calathes would have a career game scoring wise on Tuesday night against Kentucky, but that's not what he'll remember. The Gators sophomore guard had a chance to tie the game at the free throw line with less than a second to play, but missed three straight as Florida lost for the second straight time at Rupp Arena.

Kentucky's Jodie Meeks hit a miracle three just seconds earlier, giving the Wildcats a 68-65 win over Florida. The loss prevents the Gators from winning their 20th game of the season and creates a three-way tie at 6-3 atop the SEC East between the Gators, Kentucky and South Carolina.

Nick Calathes would score 33 points, eclipsing his prior career high of 32 that he put up against the Gamecocks earlier this season.

Both teams started the game struggling from the floor and sloppy with the ball. The Gators hit just two of their first nine, while the Cats hit just two of their first eight shots. The Gators also had four early turnovers, but were able to post an early 6-4 lead five minutes into the game.

The Gators started to heat up, opening it up on the break. Calathes made a beautiful behind the back pass to Alex Tyus who slammed it home followed by a steal by Dan Werner who passed it out to Calathes who scored giving Florida a 12-6 advantage.

The SEC's leading scorer Meeks scored the first nine points for Kentucky to keep the Cats close. Nine turnovers in the first 12 minutes aided a 12-4 run by Kentucky. With 5:39 left in the first half, the Wildcats led 22-18. But Florida's Erving Walker would knock down a three, and the Gators tied the score just before the half, 30-30.

Both teams lost key players early in the second half. Walter Hodge was ejected from the game after stepping on the arm of Kentucky's Perry Stevenson. Then, Wildcat center Patrick Patterson went down with an injury to his right ankle. At the time, Kentucky had gone on an 11-2 run to take a 50-47 lead with 10-minutes left in the game.

After a four-minute scoring drought, the Gators would run off 10 straight points to take a 60-54 lead with 4:32 left. Leading by five, Meeks would hit a three followed by an 18-foot jumper to pull the Cats to within one point with 2:20 left.

Kentucky would pull ahead after a pair of Meeks' free throws with just under a minute to play, but the Gators would tie the score at 65 after Werner hit 1-of-2 from the line.

After Werner's free throw, Kentucky had the ball with about a four second difference between the game clock and the shot clock. After a series of timeouts called by both teams, Kentucky was able to get the ball to Meeks who lofted up a long-range jumper with Calathes in his face. The shot fell, giving Kentucky a three-point lead, 65-62, with 4.7-seconds left.

The Gators immediately pushed the ball upcourt and Calathes launched a three with less than a second to play. The shot fell well short, but Calathes was fouled by Kevin Galloway. Calathes, however, missed his first two attempts from the line and then wasn't able to hit the rim when he tried to miss the third intentionally.

In addition to Calathes' 33 points, Tyus scored 14. No other Gator scored more than seven. Florida shot just 40.7 percent for the game and missed eight free throws in the second half.

The Gators drop to 19-5 overall and face Georgia in Athens on Saturday.


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