- Tuesday, February 6 2001 -
Florida - 70 (Head Coach: Billy Donovan) - [Ranked 8th by AP]
Kentucky - 71 (Head Coach: Orlando Smith) - [Unranked]
|J. P. Blevins||10||1||2||1||2||0||0||0||0||0||2||0||0||0||1||3|
Halftime Score: Kentucky 45, Florida 31
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|South Carolina 94 - 61|||||Mississippi State 76 - 57|
Game Writeup - Written by and courtesy of Keith Bays; Kentucky Sports Report, (All Rights Reserved)
Gators "Cat" nip'd
Lexington, KY -- When the final horn sounded there was little doubt who would be the player of the game, Tayshaun Prince. Prince scored 19 points for the Kentucky Wildcats, but no basket was bigger than the one he hit with the Wildcats down 69-70 and time running out. Prince was able to score despite being blanketed by Florida senior Brent Wright. As Prince drove from the wing he first went left, but Wright was there. Prince shifted his weight and drove right, but Wright was there. Finally Prince went left again, Wright was still there, but with the clock ticking Prince rose and flipped in a left handed shot that found the basket with 3.3 seconds remaining.
Florida coach Billy Donovan called back-to-back timeouts to draw up a final attempt to get a shot. When they finally came back on the court and set their alignment Kentucky promptly called timeout. During the timeout Kentucky's Tubby Smith drew up the defensive play that would seal the victory. Florida's inbound attempt was to come from the baseline, to the left of the basket. On the pass the UK defense forced an errant pass toward the scorer's table, and a desperation flip toward the basket by Brett Nelson as he sailed out of bounds fell well short into the waiting hands of the Kentucky defense. Kentucky had prevailed 71-70, their hold on first place secure for the present.
The early going was back and forth with each team scoring blows with mini-runs. A pair of Marquis Estill free throws tied the game at 16, and a pair of charity tosses by Marvin Stone put the Cats ahead 18-16. A lead the Cats would not relinquish until deep into the second half.
Kentucky's lead stayed under four points until a huge 15-4 run to end the first half gave the Cats a 45-31 lead.
In the second half Florida quickly made a bid to cut the lead to single digits. Every time the Gators looked like they would cut the lead to single digits the Cats would come up with a huge play.
A three point shot by JP Blevins gave the Cats a 57-45 lead with 12:10 remaining, it appeared that the Cats had taken Florida's best shot and came back strong. Appearances can be deceiving, as a 15-2 Florida run over nearly seven minutes resulted in Major Parker's free throws giving Florida the lead at 60-59 with 5:21 to play.
Saul Smith answered the Gators with a three point shot to reclaim the lead twenty seconds later. The lead was short lived as Florida's Teddy Dupay answered 25 seconds later. The defenses tightened for both teams, with just over four minutes remaining Nelson canned a pair of free throws to stretch the Gator lead to 65-62.
Each team came up dry on two offensive possessions. With 2:49 remaining Freshman Gerald Fitch fed Keith Bogans, who scored on a reverse. The Gator lead was one. On the ensuing possession the Gators found Dupay open in the left corner for an attempt from behind the arc. The shot was off, but Bogans fouled him on after the release, sending Dupay to the line for three attempts. Dupay hit the first two, but missed the final attempt. 2:31 remained in the game.
Following a Kentucky timeout Saul Smith found Gerald Fitch alone behind the arc for a three, tie game, 67-67. Just over twenty seconds later Nelson showed the form from behind the arc that made him the leading scorer in conference play. The Cats trailed the Gators 67-70. 1:49 remained.
On the resulting possession Fitch once again received the ball on the wing, Florida quickly closed on the heady frosh. With no jumper available Fitch drove the lane, drew the defense, and dished to Marvin Stone for a dunk. 1:34 remained.
Back to back turnovers by Nelson and Prince gave the ball to Florida, a miss by Udonis Haslem was quickly rebounded by Stone. Less than thirty seconds remained.
Smith drove the lane looking for a dish, with his teammates covered he shot under pressure and missed badly. Fitch came up big, again, came out of the trees with the ball and called timeout. After Coach Smith drew up the play the ball quickly went to Prince, SEC Player of the Week, on the right wing for the game winning drive.
Prince was joined in double figures by Jason Parker, who scored 10 points, and Gerald Fitch who tossed in 12. Parker also grabbed a team high nine rebounds. Fitch showed his total game as he added a game high four assists and six boards to his stats.
Florida was paced by Nelson's 18 points. Haslem and Dupay added 15 points each, and Brent Wright added 11.