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Saturday February 15, 2014At the Buzzer: Florida 69, Kentucky 59 (Instant Analysis)

Chris Harry
By Chris Harry
GatorZone.com Senior Writer

AT THE BUZZER
FLORIDA 69, KENTUCKY 59

WHAT HAPPENED: A rough first half gave way to a richly satisfying second, as Casey Prather and Scottie Wilbekin put the third-ranked Gators on their backs and ran away from 14th-ranked Kentucky with a blistering second period that silenced more than 24,000 at sold-out Rupp Arena. Prather poured in 24 points, going 8-for-9 from the floor, while Wilbekin added a career-high 23, thanks to 11-for-12 from the free-throw line. After a poor-shooting first half, UF hit 64 percent after the break, including two huge 3-point shots - one from Wilbekin, one from Michael Frazier II. For the Wildcats, the loss was just their third in 84 home games for Coach John Calipari, now in his fifth season.

WHAT IT MEANS: Florida seized a commanding three-game lead on the Wildcats in the Southeastern Conference, remaining unbeaten through 12 games in league play. The win was UF’s 17th straight, improving the Gators to 6-0 on the road against SEC foes. Florida is now 9-48 at Lexington and 4-18 under Coach Billy Donovan, with wins in 1998, 2006, 2007 and now 2014.

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Wilbekin is now the front-runner for SEC Player of the Year. Make that two straight games the senior point guard has set career highs for points, after scoring 21 in a huge road win at Tennessee on Tuesday. Wilbekin set the tone of the UF offense and played his usual spectacular defense on the other end.

STAGGERING STATISTIC: Maybe it shouldn’t be so staggering since cold spells on offense have become a trend with this team. The Gators made just one of their first 11 shots from 3-point range, with Frazier and Dorian Finney-Smith both bricking their first three from distance. But Frazier and Wilbekin’s treys came at huge times in the second half, which certainly counts for something.

SUBPLOT: Finney-Smith continued to struggle to put the ball in the basket, going 4-for-10 overall and 0-for-3 from the arc. But he finished with eight points and five rebounds, including a huge offensive carom that he fed to Frazier for his timely 3. He was a huge lift off the bench.

UP NEXT: The Gators (23-2, 12-0) will be back at home for just their second Wednesday game of the SEC season when Auburn (12-11, 4-8) comes to the O’Connell Center. The Gators defeated the Tigers 68-61 on the road Jan. 18. Auburn defeated Mississippi State 92-82 Saturday behind a combined 56 points from the backcourt of Chris Denson and KT Harrell.

 

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