- Saturday, March 4 2000 -
Florida - 70 (Head Coach: Billy Donovan) - [Ranked 8th by AP]
Kentucky - 85 (Head Coach: Orlando Smith) - [Ranked 22nd by AP]
|J. P. Blevins||8||0||1||0||0||0||0||0||1||1||1||0||0||0||0||0|
Halftime Score: Kentucky 43, Florida 24
|Prior Game|||||Next Game|
|Mississippi State 73 - 61|||||Arkansas 72 - 86|
Game Writeup - Written by and courtesy of Stephen John; Kentucky Sports Report, (All Rights Reserved)
Cats win big!
After the game, Tubby Smith said of Rupp Arena, "It's a very tough place for someone else to come in and play." The Kentucky Wildcats jumped on the 8th ranked Florida Gators early, and in early in the second half, built a lead as much as 26 points. They then hung tough, holding off the stubborn Gators, winning the game 85-70 and securing a share of the SEC regular season title. Tayshaun Prince led the way with 19 points. Bogans chipped in 14. Magloire, playing his last game in Rupp Arena, scored 14 points and had 13 rebounds.
Having played perhaps the toughest schedule in the country, the Wildcats were certainly afraid to play no one, even Florida. On February 8, Kentucky suffered its biggest loss of the season at the hands of the Gators, losing 90-73. For Florida, an outright SEC Championship and 1st-round SEC Tourney bye was on the line. For the Wildcats, a share of the SEC Championship and 1st-round bye was on the line. It was Senior Day in Rupp Arena, and the Wildcats came ready to play!
"I would call this a statement game," said Magloire, "It is letting the SEC and everyone else know we are serious. The road to the SEC always has to stop here, and now we are No. 1."
In the first half, the Wildcats used an 8-0 run to break out to a 17-11 lead. That same run became an 18-2 run over a 4:10 span and the Kentucky lead was 29-15 at the 6:20 mark of the first half, en route to an almost unbelieveable 43-24 halftime lead. The Gators shot a mere 23% from the floor in the first half. Billy Donovan's team was stunned. The Gators made only one field goal in the last 10:30 of the half and were 1-10 from three point range. Bogans, Prince, Allison and Saul Smith all had three pointers as the normally poor-shooting Cats were 5-12 from outside the arc.
"I couldn't be prouder of a group of young men than I am of these kids," Kentucky coach Tubby Smith said. "We have achieved one of the goals we set at the beginning of the year, and we couldn't be more excited about where we are." The Wildcats, who have had a great deal of trouble shooting the basketball, shot 52.9% from the field today, including 43% from behind the three-point arc.
The start of the second half fared no better for the Gators as Prince, Bogans and Camara had hot hands, extending UK's lead to 54-28 in the first three minutes. But Florida would not give up and cut the lead back to 18 at 54-36 on Mike Miller's first basket of the game. Donnell Harvey picked up his third foul. Florida's full-court pressure forced three UK turnovers during a UF 10-2 run. Harvey scored again to pull Florida to within 16 at 56-40 at the 12:16 mark. Harvey continued to work the low post very hard, but picked up his 4th foul with 10:24 remaining and sat down.
"I thought we had some very decent looks at the basket and took some good shots," Florida coach Billy Donovan said. "We just weren't able to make the key plays. "We're getting ready for the Southeastern Conference tournament and the NCAA. If this game proves to be something we learn and grow from, then it was a tremendous experience that will help us in the postseason."
Still, Florida would continue to pressure the Cats. But UK began to break that pressure and scored a few easy baskets of their own. At the 6:00 mark, the Wildcats held a 69-53 lead. The defense tightened on both ends, but a Magloire goal-tending call on a Miller drive made the game 70-57 with 3:50 remaining. After a Bogans missed three, Harvey was fouled while scoring on a drive hitting the charity shot, cutting the Kentucky lead to 10 with 3:00 remaining.
Magloire tipped in a Saul Smith miss to bring the lead back to 12. After a Florida miss, the Gators stole the ball and hit two foul shots. Off the made FT, Saul was fouled shooting a layup and at the 2:22 mark, and canned both FT and the lead was 12. The Wildcats then made a terrific stop and the Gators fouled Magloire. Jamaal made one of two and the lead was 13 with 1:43. The Wildcats pretty much sealed the deal when they forced a turnover on the ensuing possession. All the Gators could do was foul. Magloire was back at the line and extended UK lead to 77-62.
Saul drove to the basket and dished to Prince for a dunk and a foul, providing the punctuation mark to a great Wildcat victory. Jamaal Magloire finished his Senior Day with 14 points and 13 rebounds. The final score was Kentucky 85, Florida 70. Kentucky is co-SEC Champs.
Tubby said of Kentucky's play, "Our defense the first half was superb. Our shots were falling today. Saul (Smith) directed our offense and defense superbly. We had five guys in double-digits. We out-rebounded them. All the things you have to do to be a championship team we did today. Hitting shots, we can build on that and become that much more effective on defense. Against a team like Florida who presses you, we are going to get the ball out and get some open looks. We made some adjustments on our press offense, and it is paying off for us."
The Gators fell to 23-6, but more importantly, lost their opportunity to win the SEC regular season championship outright and also lost their first-round tournament bye. The Wildcats (22-8) earned a share of the SEC Championship with Tennessee, Florida and LSU, but perhaps more importantly, earned a first round bye in the SEC Tournament in Atlanta.
Jules Camara, who sat out the first game with the Gators with a foot injury, came up big today, "He is a difference-maker," Smith said. "At Florida, the only shot blocker we had was Jamaal Magloire, so we lost that big-time defensive presence. Today, Jules shot the ball well and moved well without the ball." Camara had 4 blocks to go with his 12 points.
Desmond Allison reaches in to try to grab the ball away from Udonis Haslem while Jamaal Magloire blocks the path to the basket
Jamaal Magloire and Florida's Mike Miller lay on the floor and look to the official for a call, while Desmond Allison stands in the background
Senior Steve Masiello is congratulated by Coaches Tubby Smith and Mike Sutton near the end of the game