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Florida Could Salvage Season With Upset Of No. 1 Kentucky
The University of Kentucky, as many expected, finished the regular season without a loss. The postseason begins for the top-ranked Wildcats, the overwhelming national championship favorites at Sportsbook.ag, on Friday afternoon when UK faces Florida in the semifinals of the SEC Tournament in Nashville. Kentucky is a 13-point favorite.
Gators Need Upset
Florida, which looks likely to miss the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2008, beat Alabama 69-61 on Thursday. Junior forward Dorian Finney-Smith scored 21 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, while junior guard Eli Carter added 11 and sophomore forward Devin Robinson another 10 off the bench to lead the Gators to their 11th straight win over Alabama. The game was tied early in the second half, but Finney-Smith and Robinson were key in a 16-7 run that gave the Gators a lead they were able to pad and finish off despite going 9-for-29 from the 3-point line.
UF junior guard Michael Frazier II struggled in his second game back after missing seven with a high-ankle sprain. He was 1-for-10 from the floor and 1-for-8 from 3-point range for five points. He did make two free throws and is now 35-for-36 (97.2 percent) against SEC opponents from the line. Florida got 22 points from its bench to zero from Alabama. At 16-16 overall, the Gators must win this tournament to reach the Big Dance.
UK Goes For Gator Sweep
Last Saturday in Lexington, Kentucky pulled away from Florida in the second half to win 67-50 and finish the regular season a perfect 31-0. UK became the first program among the power five conferences to finish the regular season undefeated since the 1975-76 Indiana Hoosiers. The victory also set a new UK home record at 19 wins.
Kentucky's 31-0 start to the season is the first in the history of the program, bettering the 1953-54 group's 25-0 start. UK is the only team in SEC history to begin a season 31-0. The Wildcats completed the conference season 18-0, the 15th time in program history they've made it through the SEC unscathed. Kentucky's 31-game winning streak is the second longest overall in school history. The streak is the longest over the course of a single season, besting the 1995-96 Wildcats. The 31 straight wins is the longest winning streak of Coach John Calipari's career, bettering his 2008-09 Memphis team's 27 consecutive wins. UK has won 53 of its last 55 games as the Associated Press top-ranked team.
When the teams met in Gainesville on Feb. 7, Kentucky won 68-61. Aaron Harrison scored 23 points, and Karl-Anthony Towns added 19. Willie Cauley-Stein added 13 including a monster dunk over Robinson in the second half that altered the momentum. UK was 21-for-22 from the free-throw line in that one.
Calipari this week was named SEC Coach of the Year, Cauley-Stein was named SEC Defensive Player of the Year, forward Towns won SEC Freshman of the Year and freshman guard Devin Booker captured Sixth Man of the Year honors. Cauley-Stein and Towns were tabbed First-Team All-SEC while Booker and Harrison made the All-SEC Second Team.
UF did beat UK three times last season.
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