VAUGHT: Donovan still sees UK as team to beat

Florida coach Billy Donovan doesn't think his team's 53-52 win over Kentucky Sunday exposed any glaring weakness in the Wildcats. "They have a lot of nice pieces to their team," Donovan said today. "Their freshmen have had a great year and gotten better.

Florida coach Billy Donovan doesn't think his team's 53-52 win over Kentucky Sunday exposed any glaring weakness in the Wildcats.

"They have a lot of nice pieces to their team," Donovan said today. "Their freshmen have had a great year and gotten better.

"Kentucky is a team with a lot of ways to beat you. If they are down, they can press to get back in the game. They can pound the ball inside. They have good shooters. They can beat you from the 3-point line. They can just beat you a lot of different ways."

But ...

Florida did do something more teams are likely to do both in the SEC Tournament this week and the upcoming NCAA Tournament. The Gators didn't let Rajon Rondo beat them driving inside. Instead, they backed off him and dared him to shoot from outside. He hit one 3-pointer, but did not try another one.

"The only thing we tried to do because Rondo in Lexington caused problems in the lane because he's so quick off the dribble is that we really backed up who was guarding him to give help on the post," Donovan said.

Donovan said the strategy, especially since Florida won, could be something other teams try.

"He is unique and affects games in so many ways with his quickness and steals. A big part of their offense is him in lane. If you keep him out of the lane, it takes away one of their many dimensions. It's an important dimension, but they can still beat you in other ways."

Tubby Smith said the Gators often backed off Chuck Hayes, too.

"Now you are trying to play three on four or three on five," Smith said. "They really came out o Patrick (Sparks) and Kelenna (Azubuike) and made them put the ball on the floor."

Smith said Monday that despite his foul trouble, Kentucky should have got the ball more to center Randolph Morris, who was 4-for-5 from the field in 25 minutes. He finished with nine points and seven rebounds.

Kentucky was going inside on the final play, but Hayes lined up wrong. That forced Azubuike to try a 3-point shot.

"We should have learned a lot about taking care of the ball and forcing the action (in the final minutes)," Smith said. "That is what we didn't do. We should have attacked the basket and not settled for jump shots. Take the ball to the rim and draw fouls because we never got to the free throw line (late in the game) like we wanted to. In a game like that, you have to get to the foul line to win."

Kentucky was 3-for-5 from the foul line, Florida 9-for-14.

"There were some close calls I wish had gone our way, but we also have to attack more," Smith said.


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