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Kentucky Looks To Finish Perfect Regular Season Vs. Florida
Fans of the University of Kentucky basketball team started talking about an undefeated 2014-15 season for months, certainly since a few key players off last year's national runner-up squad opted to return to Lexington instead of declaring for the NBA Draft. Plus, of course, Coach John Calipari was bringing in another crazy-good recruiting class, led by big man Karl-Anthony Towns.
On Saturday afternoon, UK can take the first big step toward history by finishing the regular season at 31-0 as they host defending SEC champion Florida. The last team to finish unbeaten in SEC regular-season play? That would be last year's Gators, who would go on to win the conference tournament and reach the Final Four. At Sportsbook.ag, Kentucky is +130 to finish at 40-0 and -165 to suffer at least one loss the rest of the way.
Last Home Game For Some
It's Senior Day in Lexington, although no seniors play any key role. But it's also likely the final home game for Towns, the potential No. 1 overall pick in next year's draft, center Willie Cauley-Stein and perhaps the Harrison twins. A few other guys might decide to leave for the NBA. Calipari will just reload with more McDonald's All-Americans.
How dominant is Kentucky? The Wildcats have trailed for 22 minutes and 11 seconds out of a possible 240 minutes against ranked opponents this season. No team has reached the Final Four undefeated since the 1990-91 UNLV Runnin’ Rebels. The last team to reach the national championship game with a zero in the loss column was Indiana State in 1979, led by Larry Bird. Just last year, Wichita State emerged from the regular season and the Missouri Valley Conference tournament unscathed. The Shockers were beaten in a thrilling game in the Round of 32 by ... Kentucky.
No Kentucky player averages more than 25 minutes per game. Only two players are averaging double digits — sophomore Aaron Harrison (11.3 points per game) and freshman shooting guard Devin Booker (11 points per game). Towns is clearly the best future pro of the bunch. He led the Wildcats back from a nine-point second-half rally Tuesday at Georgia for a 72-64 win. It was the largest second-half hole for UK this year. Towns had 19 points and seven assists. Kentucky becomes the 13th team in Division I history to win its first 30 games of a season.
Gators Playing For Pride
Florida (15-15, 8-9) is going to miss the NCAA Tournament for the first time in seven years but certainly could make its season, and probably get an NIT bid, with the big upset here. UF did win in Lexington last year. And the Gators played Kentucky tough on Feb. 7 in Gainesville, leading by two midway through the second half.
Florida is 9-48 all-time on the road vs. Kentucky, 4-14 under Coach Billy Donovan, including last season’s 69-59 victory. The Gators are looking for their first all-time regular season win vs. the nation’s top-ranked team. Both prior victories against the No. 1 team have been in the NCAA Tournament (2-11 overall).
Key betting trends: Gators are 2-5 ATS in their last 7 road games. Gators are 3-12-1 ATS in their last 16 games following a S.U. win. Gators are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games overall. Wildcats are 9-3-1 ATS in their last 13 Saturday games. Wildcats are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games following a ATS loss. Gators are 5-2 ATS in the last 7 meetings.
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