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Instant Analysis: Florida loses steam, again, in the second half vs Kentucky

March 9, 2019
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Florida (17-14, 9-9) ended their 2018-2019 regular season with a 66-57 loss to No. 6 Kentucky (26-5, 15-3) inside Rupp Arena. Similar to the first meeting, the Gators battle tested the Wildcats for the first 25-minutes of this game, even entering the half-time period with a one-point lead. Kentucky could never find a rhythm offensively, as the Gators defense settled in and limited the Cat’s to 30 first-half points. However, the much more talented Wildcats took control of the second half and suffocated the Gators on both ends of the floor. 

WHAT WENT WRONG: In the most critical minutes of the game, Florida was held without a field goal for more than seven minutes. During this stretch, Kentucky went on a 15-2 run and built a 54-42 lead. Florida never stood a chance of that Wildcat run. Florida hung around with Kentucky for a majority of this game, but when they needed a bucket, the Gators were unable to put the ball in the cylinder. 

WHO STOLE THE SHOW: The Kentucky duo of P.J. Washington and Tyler Herro are two of the best players in this conference and each player had a big afternoon inside Rupp Arena. After his 20-point performance on Tuesday against Ole Miss, Herro shot over 50-percent (6/11) and finished the evening with 14 points. Several of his floaters were a thing of beauty.  

Washington had a quiet first-half, registering just four points. However, when his name was called, he prevailed. The 6-foot-7 forward finished the regular season finale with 15 points and 9 rebounds.  

For Florida, it was Kevarrius Hayes who stood out in the Orange and Blue. The 6-foot-9 center provided tremendous minutes for Mike White’s team today. Hayes was 8-for-9 from the field, registered 19 points and 5 rebounds to close out the regular season. Hayes’ defense in the first half was a difference maker.  

NUMBERS DON’T LIE: For starters, it’s always a challenge to enter Rupp Arena and steal away from the Big Blue. It’s even more challenging when you get absolutely smothered on the glass and at the free throw line. Kentucky shot 32 free throws compared to the Gators 11. It’s understandable since the game was in Rupp Arena, but my goodness Kentucky made 26 of their attempts and had a +20 free-throw scoring margin in this game.  

Florida also got bullied on the glass. Kentucky ended the game with a +16 advantage on the glass, including +6 on the offensive end. Florida did a lousy job of controlling several key elements that certianly define the outcome of a  basketball game. 

BOTTOM LINE: Bottom line is Florida likely has to win two games in the SEC Tournament for them to solidify their spot in the “Big Dance”. The Gators squandered away great positioning to be a guaranteed lock, but after three straight losses, Florida is holding on by a thread. The Gators need to figure it out fast or they will be heading to the NIT. 

UP NEXT: The Florida Gators will get several days off before they head to Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tn. to compete in the 2019 SEC Tournament. Florida finished 9-9 in conference play and will have a first-round bye.  

 

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Instant Analysis: Florida loses steam, again, in the second half vs Kentucky

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