- Saturday, March 7 2009 -
Kentucky - 53 (Head Coach: Billy Gillispie) - [Unranked]
Florida - 60 (Head Coach: Billy Donovan) - [Unranked]
Halftime Score: Florida 29, Kentucky 22
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|Georgia 85 - 90|||||Mississippi 71 - 58|
Game Writeup - Written by Matt May; Courtesy of The Cats Pause, (All Rights Reserved)
Turnover-prone Cats drop 4th straight
GAINESVILLE, Fla. - There is no joy in Catville, mighty Kentucky has struck out.
The Cats took a purposeful - but futile - swing in a last ditch effort to bolster their NCAA Tournament resume but whiffed yet again in a 60-53 to a Florida team also playing for its postseason life. UK never led in the game and got no closer than five in the second half as a rash of turnovers and unforced mistakes killed every chance the Cats had to close the gap.
UK finished the regular season on a four-game losing streak, and lost eight of their final 11 overall. The loss saddled UK with a fourth place finish in the SEC East and dropped them into a Thursday opening round game in the Southeastern Conference Tournament.
"All we can do is try and win games and we haven't done that very well lately," UK coach Billy Gillispie said after another frustrating defeat.
Florida shot just 38.9 percent for the game but UK turned the basketball over 23 times and allowed the Gators to hit eight three-pointers, including three in the first 3:15 of the game. Not even Patrick Patterson - who had 16 points and 13 rebounds - was immune to the follies, as he missed no fewer than eight shots on the block in the first half alone.
Worse than that, UK turned the basketball over six times in the final nine minutes when it had a chance to cut the lead to five or less.
"We had our opportunities," Gillispie said. "I thought we were in great shape, better than we were in Lexington, we just didn't execute the last three or four minutes to get the right shots. I thought we were okay thought after the last media timeout if we had just executed."
The free-fall over the final six weeks turned what was once a promising 5-0 start to league play into an 8-8 nightmare, the first non-winning SEC campaign in 20 years. In fact, this team will let the 1988-89 team - Eddie Sutton's final squad - off the hook on nearly all the unflattering marks it set. The current four-game SEC losing streak is the first for UK since it lost six straight during that lost season and it is also the last time the program lost eight or more games in a campaign after Feb. 1.
"I'm not really sure what happened," guard Jodie Meeks, who scored 15 points, said. "We started out 5-0 and were riding high and then all of the sudden we've lost eight of the last 11 or whatever. It's disappointing but there is nothing you can do about it.
"I don't like losing at all and whenever adversity comes I want to say something because I'm all about winning."
No amount of verbal urging seemed to matter in the shadow of 'The Swamp'. Like it has done all season, UK treated the basketball like a hot potato, allowing the Gators to do just enough to escape. In truth, it was as simple as Florida shooting fewer holes in its own foot.
"We just didn't do a good enough job executing anything in the second half," Gillispie said. "I thought we competed really, really hard and I loved the way they fought but we just didn't execute well enough to win.
"We've struggled with it all year long and I think we try a little bit too hard. When we've gotten into tough and close game situations we haven't executed very well. It's not always the point guards, it's not always the wings, it's a collection of five guys trying too hard and trying not to make a mistake. It takes five to be successful and five to be successful."
Unfortunately for the Cats, all it takes is three strikes to be out.
Kevin Galloway (#3) and Ramon Harris (#5) try to defend a drive by Florida's Alex Tyus.
Patrick Patterson rejects Florida's Dan Werner
Josh Harrellson holds his ground against Florida's Nick Calathes