Florida and Kentucky, who play each other Saturday night in a Southeastern Conference contest in Lexington, Ky., have one major thing in common: ordinary seasons being propped up by a big win over current No. 2 Tennessee.
The Wildcats (15-7, 6-3 SEC) upset the Volunteers 63-56 on Jan. 14 in Knoxville to start a stretch of five wins in six games, while the Gators (13-9, 6-3) stopped Tennessee 67-54 Wednesday night for their third Quadrant 1 win in 13 tries.
The Vols led 44-38 with 10:40 left, but Florida closed the game out with a 29-10 run to hand first-year coach Todd Golden his best win on the job.
“I feel like we’re better than our record indicated, even through some of those stretches,” Golden said. “I’m just incredibly proud of our guys for putting an effort like that together for 40 minutes.”
Colin Castleton led the Gators with 20 points and nine rebounds in another solid effort for the 6-foot-11 center. On the season, he’s averaging 15.1 points per game and 7.7 boards along with 3.1 blocked shots. Florida’s other double-figure scorer is guard Will Richard (10.1 ppg).
Thanks in part to Castleton, the Gators rank third in the country in blocked shots at 6.1 per game.
Meanwhile, Kentucky is coming off a 75-66 win Tuesday night at Ole Miss behind 27 points off the bench from Antonio Reeves. Hitting 8 of 12 shots, including 6 of 7 from 3-point range, Reeves gave the Wildcats a much-needed boost against the struggling Rebels.
“When you’re playing basketball and one guy gets it going, then you play him and you go through him,” Kentucky coach John Calipari said. “That’s why we kept going to Antonio.”
Reeves raised his scoring average to 13.4 ppg, second on the team behind Oscar Tshiebwe (16.5 ppg, 13.6 rebounds per game). The Wildcats also get 11.5 ppg and 6.3 rpg from Jacob Toppin, and 11.3 ppg from Cason Wallace.
–Field Level Media