USA Today/Kim Klement

Kasey Hill dominates as Florida Gators dismantle struggling Kentucky Wildcats

Florida hands Kentucky its third loss in four games.

On a night when several college basketball powers took it on the proverbial chin, Kentucky suffered a jarring knockout on Saturday night at Florida. 

The No. 24 Gators shot 67 percent in the second half and owned a shocking 54-29 rebounding advantage on their way to an 88-66 rout of the No. 8 Wildcats. It marked Florida's largest margin of victory over UK in series history. 

Even Florida head coach Mike White was hard-pressed to believe the lop-sided nature of his team's win: "I'm looking at the box score, and it's crazy."

Kasey Hill led the charge for the Gators, scoring a game-high 21 points and dishing out six assists. He also spearheaded an aggressive Florida defense that held UK to a season-low 38 percent from the field. Devin Robinson and Canyon Barry added 16 and 14 points, respectively, for the winners. 

Said Kentucky head coach John Calipari: "We're just not playing well, as a unit or individually." 

"If they're playing defense like this and think that's acceptable, then that comes back to me," the UK boss added. 

Kentucky (18-5, 8-2 SEC) joined the likes of No. 2 Baylor, No. 3 Kansas, No. 5 Arizona, No. 7 West Virginia and No. 9 Virginia in the loss column on an upset-minded day across the country. It marked the most Top 10 losses on a single day in the history of the AP Poll.

With the win, Florida (18-5, 8-2 SEC) staked its claim as a serious contender for the league's regular-season title. The Gators bumped South Carolina into the top spot, while pulling into a second-place tie with the Wildcats. 

UK got 19 points from freshman point guard De'Aaron Fox, who came off the bench after suffering flu-like symptoms this week. He missed Tuesday night's game against Georgia and practices on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

Malik Monk was the only other UK player in double figures, scoring all of his 11 points in the second half and falling 11 points under his SEC-leading season average.

In this AllWildcats "Rapid Recap" feature, we touch on some quick-hitters from the game...  

WHAT WENT WRONG:

It's rare when you see Kentucky lose a game because it got outworked and gave up, but both appeared to be the case in this one. The Gators had more fight from the game's opening tip and gave the Cats one of the worst rebounding beatings they've suffered in recent memory. As the game wore on, UK appeared to revert to old AAU habits, something that Calipari has struggled to purge from his young team. 

GAME BALL:

Kasey Hill, Florida -- Experience proved to be a big difference in the game as the Gators' senior point guard dictated an aggressive mindset for his team on both ends of the floor. Hill thoroughly outplayed the Cats' more high-profile guards. Hill came into the game averaging only 9.4 points per game and had scored more than 20 only one other time.

BY THE NUMBERS:

0 - Points for Malik Monk, the SEC's leading scorer, in the first half.

1st - Double-digit loss of the season for UK. The previous four losses were by a combined 16 points.

6 - Offensive rebounds for UK on 38 missed field goals and nine missed free throws.

-22 - Rebounding deficit for Cats in the first half. 

7:13 - Assist-to-turnover ratio for UK. 

1992 - The last time a Top 10 UK team lost by as many points (23 vs. Tennessee).

QUOTABLE:

"Players making shots is one thing, but when you get beat to every loose ball... " -- UK head coach John Calipari.

UP NEXT:

Kentucky returns to action Tuesday night at Rupp Arena against LSU. Tipoff is slated for 7 p.m. ET on ESPN. The Tigers (9-13, 1-9 SEC) lost 85-73 at Texas A&M tonight.


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