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The Gators defeated No. 6 Kentucky in Lexington.

Sunday January 5, 2014Gators Upset No. 6 Kentucky in Lexington

Lexington, KY

The Gators defeated No. 6 Kentucky in Lexington.

Senior Jaterra Bonds scored a game-high 23 points, freshman Ronni Williams posted her third double-double and Florida knocked off No. 6 Kentucky, 83-73, at Memorial Coliseum Sunday afternoon.

 

The Gators won their eighth consecutive game overall and snapped a couple streaks in the process. Florida halted its six-game skid against Kentucky, as well as earned its first victory against a ranked team in 10 tries. The Gator’s last win against a nationally-ranked team was on March 17, 2012, when the squad topped No. 16 Ohio State, 70-65, in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

 

In addition to Bonds’ sixth 20-point game of the season and Williams’ career-high 19 point, 10 rebound performance, Christin Mercer and January Miller both added 10 points, as all eight Gators who suited up, scored in the game.

 

With the game tied at 53 and 14:57 remaining, Kentucky went on a 9-0 run and took a 62-53 lead with exactly 12 minutes remaining that whipped the crowd of 7,039 into a frenzy.

 

The Gators fought back and used a 16-6 run over the next 7:18 to take a 69-68 lead with 4:31 remaining.

 

Bonds started the spree with a pair of free throws, as Williams scored six points during the run, Mercer six points and Miller capped the march with a pair of one-and-one free throws after she was fouled on a break-away.

 

UK came right back with a pair of free throws, but Kayla Lewis took a great feed from Mercer in the paint and finished to spark a 6-0 run that gave Florida a 75-70 lead with 3:40 to go.

 

Florida converted 12-of-16 free throws in the final 3:40 of the game to help seal the win.

 

Kentucky featured the nation’s third-most potent offense, entering the game averaging 93.8 points per game, but managed just one field goal in the final 13 minutes of the contest.

 

Jennifer O’Neill led UK with 15 points, hitting 6-of-10 free throws.

 

Streaking Along

·         Florida boasts an eight-game winning streak

·         The last time Florida won eight consecutive games was early in the 2008-09 season

 

The Series vs. Kentucky

·         Florida snapped the Wildcats’ six-game win streak in the series

·         Each of the last six games in the series has been decided by 10 points or less.

·         Florida’s previous last win in the series was a 74-59 victory on Jan. 29, 2009 in Gainesville.

·         The Gators last win in Lexington was a 68-61 finale back on Feb. 5, 2006.

 

Gators vs. Ranked Teams

·         No. 6 Kentucky was the first ranked team the Gators are playing this season

·         UF has lost nine consecutive games to ranked opponents

·         The Gators were 0-8 last year versus ranked teams (at the time of tip-off).

·         Florida’s last win over a ranked team was on March 17, 2012, when the unranked Gators upset No. 16/18 Ohio State, 70-65, in the first round of the NCAA Championship.

 

Florida vs. No. 6-Ranked Teams

·         Kentucky is ranked No. 6 in both national polls this week.

·         The Gators improve to 4-8 all-time versus teams ranked No. 6

·         UF’s last win against a team ranked No. 6 was on Jan. 24, 2002, when the Gators downed No. 6 Vanderbilt, 62-51, in Nashville.

 

Run of the Game

·         With Kentucky holding a 62-53 lead with 12 minutes to go, Florida staged a 16-6 run over the next 7:18 to take a 69-68 lead with 4:31 remaining.

·         The Gators outscored the Wildcats, 14-5 the rest of the way.

 

Streaks

·         Jaterra Bonds started for the 85th consecutive game

·         January Miller scored in her team-leading 44th consecutive game

 

Double-Figures

·         Jaterra Bonds scored in double-figures for the 13th time this year; 69th time in career; fourth straight game

·         Ronni Williams scored in double-figures for seventh time this year; first time in five games (last 12 points vs. Saint Francis, Dec. 17)

·         Christin Mercer scored in double-figures for the eighth time this year; 12th time in career

·         January Miller scored in double-figures for the 11th time this year; 19th time in career; third straight game

 

 

Numbers of Note:

·         10th time this year every Gator who suited up, scored

·         Jaterra Bonds started the 99th game of her career; 85th straight start

·         Lily Svete blocked the 11th shot of her career; fifth this year

·         Ronni Williams converted the first three-pointer of her career

 

 

Other SEC Games on Sunday:

SOUTH CAROLINA d. Vanderbilt, 76-66

Auburn d. MISSISSIPPI STATE, 82-74

Arkansas d MISSOURI, 69-66

TEXAS A&M d. Alabama, 73-58

Tennessee d. GEORGIA, 85-70

LSU d. TULANE, 63-35

 

Quotes from the Court

“It’s says a lot. It says a lot about our character and our spirit and how hard we work every day – not just how hard we worked today. The work that these kids put in – they got what they deserved today. They earned this win in the two days of practice leading up to this and then they brought it to the court. I absolutely loved their composure. We were undaunted when we got down. We kept fighting and grinding and making plays. Just like every other great win we’ve had this year, it wasn’t one person; it was everybody stepping up, everybody doing their job to the fullest and taking turns making plays.” – UF head coach Amanda Butler on the win

 

“Keeping Ronni on the floor has been something that we’ve been really concerned with. She had a great performance against one fo the best teams in the country, but it’s not surprising to see Ronni play like that. I’m just glad she got what she deserved. She gave herself a chance and kept herself on the floor. She made good decisions. She didn’t hang her head when she made mistakes that are just inevitable against a great team like this on their own floor.” – Butler on the performance of freshman Ronni Williams

 

 

More postgame Quotes

 

Florida Head Coach Amanda Butler

Opening Statement…

“Kentucky’s a great team, and it’s a fantastic win, to not only be able to play well enough to beat them, but beat them here, this is very significant. Matthew (Mitchell) has done a fantastic job and will continue to, so a great opportunity for our team that we took advantage of, and this is a team that works very hard every single day and I’m just glad they got what they deserve and took advantage of the chance they had this evening.”

 

On what it took to come back after being down with 10 minutes left…

“I think we have a daily commitment that you guys don’t get to see, the way that we practice and obviously practice doesn’t always go perfect, and how we fight through things for each other. This team has an extra measure of chemistry, a little extra ‘oomph’ to them. They want to do things for each other and we also knew there’s no way we’re going to get ahead of Kentucky and stay ahead, they’re too good of a ball club on their home court, we have to be mentally ready and resilient. I’m really proud of the way that we didn’t hang our heads, that’s the moment in the ballgame where a team typically runs away from you.”

 

On the 2-3 zone and causing Kentucky to have offensive problems…

“I think it was more of what we were comfortable doing. They still scored 73 points, I don’t feel like there was a lot we were doing defensively that was causing them problems, but we were just doing our best to defend based on the defense that made sense based on who was on the floor for them. In the second half, I was really pleased with our zone play, because we did a better job of rebounding. We did a poor job in the first half of handling, giving them second opportunities. Again, I think that goes back to great communication. We didn’t just sit back in the zone, we were mixing it up and trying to do different things. We have great respect for them. I knew we were going to have to guard them in a few different ways to beat them tonight.”

 

Florida Student-Athletes

 

#10 Jaterra Bonds, G

On getting over the edge and getting the win…

“It felt good to beat them on their home court. They’re one of the best teams in the country, pressing you 94 feet. So I knew it was going to be a challenge the whole game. Every huddle I was saying ‘stay composed, be smart and we have to make the hustle plays and get the rebound.’ But this is a big win for us, especially on the road, because it counts double.”

 

On if she saw UK’s offensive struggles bother them:

“Yeah, usually the first shot doesn’t win the game for you, it’s the offensive rebounds. I thought we did a good job in the end of toughening up, boxing out and grabbing the rebounds strong. I believe that, and hitting free throws at the end is what closed the game out for us.”

 

 

Kentucky Head Coach Matthew Mitchell

Opening Statement …

“Well, that is a really tough game and our hats off to Florida they just played so hard today. They started the game with energy and never let up. I just thought that were really outstanding and worked hard and played together as a team with a lot of toughness and played through adversity. They had a great day. Congratulate them, they just came in here and beat us today. It is as simple as that.”

 

On the team’s free-throw shooting …
“Free-throw shooting was not good at 56 percent. I don’t know what to tell you on that. We have worked really, really hard and spent a lot of extra time. People have spent a lot of time in the gym. You just have to really show up on the line focused and intent on your routine and make them. I am sure nobody got up there and tried to miss them but it was really tough today. It was a major factor in the game.”

 

On if the team’s missed layups effected execution down the stretch…
“It’s possible. I thought there were certain times out there where we didn’t look really sharp mentally. That is not going to help you very much in game like this when the opponent is very sharp mentally and wants to play really hard and is hungry for the win. You guys watched it. It was really evident who played with more passion. I am just so disappointed that happened and that we were outplayed from an energy standpoint and from a focus standpoint. It looked like it meant a lot more to them than it did to us. You have to credit them for getting in here and getting fired up and playing and really taking it to us today.”

 

On why the team struggled offensively late in the game …
“I thought our point guards really stopped moving the ball and started playing around behind screens and we just got the ball stuck on one side of the floor. Every time in the game when we had success, (especially) in the first half after we fell behind with a big lead, we finally started moving the ball and penetrating the basketball and then we just stopped moving the basketball and lost our poise. Florida played really tough defense and made it tough on it. It was a 2-3 zone and they get after it and they played some man-to-man, too. It was our inability to get the ball reversed and then we just missed a lot of layups that you need to make in a game like this.”

 

On DeNesha Stallworth’s return …
“I thought she did well. I thought she came in and tried to compete. It didn’t seem like she was all that comfortable on defense. I think that was a tough part. I think she will get back and it was very encouraging to have her back out there. She gave us some production. She made a couple of shots there, so that was good to see her back out there and got some offensive boards.”

 

On when he knew Stallworth would play today …
“I think watching her yesterday, it sort of looked like she was going full speed and working hard. I didn’t know if we would play her, but we just started the game with such a lack of focus with some of our post players. At that time, I just thought that maybe she could give us a lift and a boost to see what was going on. She got in and made some plays.”

 

On who he turns to now to lead the team out of this disappointing loss …
“The people that have passion and energy have been trying to have passion and energy all year. We just have an inconsistency on our team and it is really disheartening for me. I just think it is a special opportunity to get to play here and I think we work really hard and our administration does everything they can to make it a good atmosphere for us. I don’t really know why you would be in a situation like now where you would not be super focused. I have to figure that out and how to get the team to sharpen up and get motivated and see if we can forge ahead and bounce back because we will have to.”

 

Kentucky Student-Athletes

 

#32 Kastine Evans, G

On the offensive struggles …

“I didn’t think we stayed very poised offensively. I think we were getting good attacks and some good passes offensively, but we weren’t finishing anything outside or inside the paint. That comes from staying composed in a tough game. Florida was playing at such a high pace and they really pushed us into things that we weren’t comfortable doing. We had to slow down and finish. It was just a lack of composure in the finish and the last few minutes.”

 

On who they turn to now to fix problems …

“I think we have voices on this team. It’s whether we choose to listen to those voices and pull together as a team or we come and everybody separates by themselves. It will be a decision each and every one of us will have to make. We have to decide to make this a tough loss and something that we battle with together because practices will be hard these next couple of days, or if it’s something where we let down and let an opportunity go. It will all be personal decisions. From my experience being here, this will be on the better side where we will pull together, encourage each other, be positive in a very tough situation where we are coming off a loss and we’re going on the road. We have to stay encouraged and positive by using our process as a situation where we can use that as a positive for us with all the hard work that we’ve done going all the way back to early May.”

 

On the trouble with the 2-3 zone …

“I think a lot of it had to do with ourselves. Alabama played primarily a 2-3 zone and we did alright with it down there. They might not have been as physical, but we were just more focused in the Alabama game than the Duke game and this game. We have been working really hard with our zone offense and making plays. I don’t think we necessarily did exactly what we wanted to do. There were plenty of things that we’ve done in practice, but we didn’t do them today and that’s all mental focus. That is nothing physical. We just have to be more mentally prepared before the game and use our preparation as something that is going to help us.”

 

#23 Samarie Walker, F

On if this game was an effort issue as a team …

“I think some players let down towards the end of the game when we got down. I think the energy wasn’t there the last couple of minutes when we needed it.”

 

#0 Jennifer O’Neill, PG

On if they got comfortable after the nine-point second half lead …

“I felt like we had momentum. I think it was a letdown and a lack of focus. We had a lot of unforced turnovers and forced shots. We weren’t poised. We had momentum and just lost it.”

 

On free throw issues …

“I don’t know if there is something to it. I guess it would just be staying with your routine, getting in the gym and staying confident. Matthew (Mitchell) has been trying to do a shooting game with us to help our free-throw percentage. I think if we stick with that, it will help us improve and we won’t have games like this where our free-throw shooting is horrible.”

 

 

On if the point guards stopped moving the ball …

“(Matthew Mitchell was saying) we were dancing around with the ball. What I mean by dancing is I was playing around with it and keeping it in my hands rather than having ball movement and looking for open people. I was trying not to force shots and force plays or do things by myself.”

 

 

 

Next Gator Game:

Arkansas (14-1, 1-1 SEC) at Florida (12-3, 2-0 SEC)

Stephen C. O’Connell Center (11,373) * Gainesville, Fla.

Thu., January 9 * 7 p.m. ET

 

Game Coverage & More!

·         Radio: LIVE on ESPN850 WRUF-AM in Gainesville with Adam Schick & Brittany Davis

·         Internet Audio: LIVE thru www.Gatorzone.com (FREE)

·         Television: none

·         Internet Video: LIVE on Gatorvision.tv (subscription)

·         Internet Scoring: LIVE thru GatorZone.com (FREE)

·         Tickets: $5 for reserved seats; $4 adult general admission; $2 for youth age 17 and under; FREE for UF and Santa Fe students

·         Parking: FREE in the O’Connell Center lot

 

Additional Hoopla for the Game

·         Sock Giveaway: The first 500 fans receive a pair of blue gatorhead basketball socks.

·         Campus Challenge: Elite 8: Campus Challenge is back for the 2014 conference season. Students of participating residence halls will have a chance to win great prizes throughout the tournament. Today’s quarterfinal matchup is: Muphree vs. Tolbert and Keys. Students will be entered to win Publix and Best Buy gift cards and the residence hall(s) with the highest attendance will advance to the final four.

 

 

For all of the latest information on Florida women’s basketball:

Official Website: www.gatorzone.com/basketball/women

Facebook: www.facebook.com/FloridaWomensBasketball

Twitter: @GatorZoneWBK  and  @CoachButlerUF 

 

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