Gators Face Huge Challenge in Talented 'Cats

Florida has faced Michigan State, Florida State and Syracuse but they have not faced any team with the talent of the Kentucky Wildcats. The unbeaten ‘Cats come to Gainesville Tuesday night ranked No. 2 in both major polls and looking for their 16th straight win of the season.

Kentucky has won its games by an average of almost 18 points and is dominating opponents to the tune of about 11 more rebounds a night. They have notable wins over Miami, Stanford, North Carolina, Connecticut and Louisville. They won their SEC opener over Georgia but the 76-68 game was tougher than most expected.

Kentucky is led by one of the best freshman guards in college basketball history. John Wall scores (17.2 points), passes (7.1 assists), steals (2.3) and rebounds (3.8). He's also efficient, making 51 percent from the field, 39 percent from long range and 77 percent at the line.

Wall is a natural for coach John Calipari's dribble-drive offense as are Eric Bledsoe (10.3), Darnell Dodson (7.5) and Darius Miller (7.5).

Those perimeter players are supported by one of the best frontcourt tandems in the country in junior Patrick Patterson (16.7/8.1) and freshman DeMarcus Cousins (15.4/9.4). Kentucky also has plenty of depth when you factor in Daniel Orton (3.7/3.3) and Ramon Harris (2.9/3.6).

Kentucky has been in enough close games for the Gators to know they have a chance. Six of their wins have been by 10 points or less with three of them within three points. Still it will take an effort at least as good as what the Gators came up with against the Spartans up in Atlantic City for them to have a chance in the O'Dome.

Donovan assessed the strengths of this Kentucky squad.


On the remarkable talents of John Wall:

"He's got great speed. He's got great athleticism and he's very long for a guard. I almost liken him to a better version of (Rajon) Rondo coming out of high school. He has the ability to rebound and is really explosive on the open floor. I think he has a great feel for how to play and makes everyone around him better. He's a guy who is just a special player all the way around."

On the difficulty of defending Kentucky on the dribble drive:

"They've got great speed and quickness at every spot. I think when you're playing that way you have to have the personnel that can really take you off the dribble. I think Wall, Bledsoe, Miller and Dodson can take you off the dribble. When you have guys who go off the dribble like that, then shrinking the floor (and) cutting down gaps becomes a lot more important. They certainly thrive a lot more in a spread floor situation and they can use their one-on-one ability and those skills."

On his team trying to compete with Kentucky on the glass:

"They're averaging about 15 offensive rebounds a game, and that's an enormous number for a team that's shooting 50 percent from the field. Blocking out and us being man on man is going to be very important. They have the combination of all three things that I would say make up a great rebounding team. They have length. They have strength and they have great pursuit of the ball. I think Orton, Cousins, Patterson and even Dodson for their position have all three of those ingredients which is what makes them a terrific rebounding team."

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