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The Gators are the first team in SEC history to finish 18-0 in conference play.

Saturday March 8, 2014At the Buzzer: Florida 84, Kentucky 65 (Instant Analysis)

The Gators are the first team in SEC history to finish 18-0 in conference play.

Chris Harry
By Chris Harry
GatorZone.com Senior Writer

AT THE BUZZER
FLORIDA 84, KENTUCKY 65 


WHAT HAPPENED: The greatest senior class in Florida basketball history made sure they celebrated an O’Connell Center finale that no one will ever forget -- including the Kentucky Wildcats. The Gators, already wearing crowns as 2014 Southeastern Conference champions, handled No. 25 Kentucky behind 18 points and seven rebounds from senior center Patric Young, 15 points on 5-for-5 shooting from Casey Prather, plus a rain of 3-point baskets from sophomore guard Michael Frazier II, Dorian Finney-Smith and Scottie Wilbekin. UF jumped on UK in the first half, led by as many as 22, then had to withstand a 15-point blitz from the Wildcats before taking the lead out bit by bit in the final 12 minutes and thus extended the school record for consecutive victories to 23 and won for the 32nd straight time at the sold-out O’Connell Center.

WHAT IT MEANS: History, that’s what. With the win, Florida 2013-14 became the first team in SEC history to go through a conference season 18-0. During the 27 years the league played an 18-game slate, a 17-1 mark was achieved five times -- by Kentucky (’65-66, ’69-70 and ’85-86) three times, Vanderbilt (’64-65) and LSU (’80-81) once each -- but never an unblemished 18-0 mark. Take a bow, Gators.

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Young, Prather, Wilbekin and Will Yeguete, the 2010 signing class that won its 113th game together. Fittingly, during one critical stretch when UK had cut UF’s lead to 10 inside of six minutes, Prather (with 3-point play), Yeguete (slam dunk), Young (jump hook) and Wilbekin (3-point shot) scored their team’s next 10 points -- to UK’s one -- to put the game away.

STAGGERING STATISTIC: Kentucky came into the game ranked second in the SEC in defending the 3-point shot. The Wildcats were allowing just 30 percent for the league season. The Gators went 9-for-15 from the arc (60 percent), including 7-for-12 in the first half to go up by 22 points. 

SUBPLOT: Kentucky is generally accepted as the class program of the SEC, but let’s not forget it’s Florida that has won three of the last four conference championships and just accomplished a feat -- perfect in 18 games -- never before done by even the league’s Big Blue blue bloods.

UP NEXT: Florida (29-2, 18-0) will be the No. 1 seed in the SEC Tournament, which opens Wednesday night at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. The Gators will have byes through the first two rounds and play a to-be-determined low-seeded survivor in the Friday quarterfinals at 1 p.m.

 

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