Kentucky Caps 31-0 Run Through Regular Season

LEXINGTON, Ky. – In the aftermath of Kentucky’s 67-50 win over Florida on Saturday at Rupp Arena, the Wildcats remained on the floor to celebrate the moment with most of the 24,428 fans who cheered them on to victory in the regular season finale.

The nation’s top-ranked team donned royal blue T-shirts featuring the day’s most notable statistic in an otherwise forgettable game -- “31-0” -- commemorating a perfect run through the regular season.

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The Nike-branded shirts featured one more critical detail, especially in the eyes of this UK team, the words “NOT DONE” under the record.

"See you in Nashville," sophomore point guard Andrew Harrison told fans over the PA system.

Indeed, there’s much work remaining before the Wildcats will be satisfied with their season. Kentucky needs nine more wins -- three in the SEC Tournament next week in Nashville and six in the NCAA Tournament -- to become legendary, the first team since Indiana in 1976 to cap an undefeated season with a national championship. But the opposing coach on this day noted that what John Calipari’s squad has accomplished to date should be thoroughly appreciated no matter what happens between now and the end of the season.

“What they’ve done may not happen again for a long, long time,” Florida coach Billy Donovan said. “... I get the expectation part here. I get that. But I also think that the people need to understand what happened here, historically, for their team."

Asked about his thoughts on running the table in the regular season, Calipari said: “The only thing I keep telling them is I'm so proud and I respect them so much to be able to deal with this. I mean, not only is every game an event, every game they played this year is an event, every game is somebody's Super Bowl. Every game the coach would walk off the court and say that was the best we played all year. They took on the challenges.

“It's not only you coming at them, it's people around them coming at them. They were able to shield that and play for each other. They are able to play for each other. They did it again today.”

It wasn’t a vintage Kentucky performance, but the Cats still had too many weapons for Florida (15-16, 8-10 SEC). Freshman forward Trey Lyles led the way with 14 points and six rebounds, while fellow freshman big man Karl-Anthony Towns stuffed the stat sheet with 13 points, nine rebounds, six blocked shots and three assists. UK had an overwhelming 46-13 advantage in bench points.

The Gators got 15 points from Kasey Hill and 12 from Dorian Finney-Smith, but none of their teammates failed to record more than six points. Florida hurt its upset chances with 17 turnovers.

In this AllWildcats "Rapid Recap" feature, we touch on some of the day's highs and lows:

WHAT WE LIKED: Kentucky had a relatively stress-free home finale, and Calipari was able to honor senior walk-ons Brian Long, Sam Malone and Tod Lanter with starting assignments at Rupp Arena. The three seldom-used Cats immediately came out of the game after UK's first possession, but they got a standing ovation from the sold-out crowd and a memory to last a lifetime. When the stars took the court, they were met by an outstanding scouting report and gameplan from the Florida staff, but were still able to win comfortably. Even though the Gators played hard and managed to stay close for three quarters of the game, they never felt like a real threat.

KEY MOMENT: With UK leading 44-41 and 10:28 remaining in the game, the Cats went on a 13-4 run to seize control. The spurt started with a key 3-pointer by Devin Booker and ended with a steal and runout dunk by Aaron Harrison that gave his team a 57-45 advantage with 5:44 to go. The Cats held Florida to only one field goal over the final six mintues of play.

STAT OF THE DAY: Kentucky won by 17 despite making only two shots from beyond the arc. The Cats attempted only six 3-pointers on the day.

BY THE NUMBERS:
1st – Team from a "power five" conference since Bobby Knight's Hoosiers in 1976 to finish a regular season undefeated.

15 – Times UK has gone undefeated through SEC play, twice under Calipari (2012 and 2015).

57-0 – The Cats' record under Calipari when holding an opponent to 55 or fewer points.

96-37 – UK's lead in the all-time series against the Gators.

QUOTABLE: "I'm not a big fan of tournaments. Never have been. Three games in three days. What does that do for you? I mean, I don't think it does anything. I'm not a big fan. But this place is a different animal. Our fans who can't get in this building... They come to the tournament, they spend their rent money, mortgage money, their car money. They get money, take loans, and they go to the tournament because they can't get in here. We all talked about it. We're going to play for our fans.” – Calipari on the SEC Tournament.

UP NEXT: Kentucky returns to action on Friday at 1 p.m. ET in the quarterfinals of the SEC Tournament. The brackets have yet to be determined, and the Cats have a double-bye for the first two rounds. It appears they will face one of three teams: Vanderbilt, Alabama or Florida.





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