During halftime of the Florida-Kentucky game, CBS studio analyst Greg Anthony stated the true measure of a team is based on how they play on the road.
Heading into Saturday’s game, Florida had yet to win a significant road matchup this season, perhaps the one blemish on the Gators’ resume.
After going scoreless for the game’s final 7:36, the Gators again came up short on the road, falling to a desperate Wildcats squad, 61-57.
Kentucky showed early signs of its desperation to win, getting off to a quick 4-0 start. Just 48 seconds into the game, Florida coach Billy Donovan called a timeout before the Rupp Arena crowd could even take a seat.
By the 16-minute mark, the Wildcats had pushed their lead to 11-2, promptly putting Florida on upset alert. The Gators had fallen prey to several big road deficits this season, none of which turned out positive for them.
However, Florida would battle back rather quickly on Saturday, tying the game at 11, while holding the Wildcats scoreless for nearly five minutes. Once the game became all-square, the remaining minutes of the first half saw both teams take revolving possession of the lead.
By the end of the first 20 minutes, the game was tied at 31. Florida’s frontcourt took charge in the opening half, as Erik Murphy and Patric Young combined for 17 of the team’s points. Kenny Boynton got off to a hot start as well, pouring in nine points on 4-of-9 shooting.
While the road environments at Arkansas and Missouri proved to be tough, a game at Rupp is an entirely different animal. The Kentucky crowd, as usual, was in the game the whole way, determined to will the Wildcats to a victory.
In the opening of the second half, the ‘Cats again scored four straight points, prompting another Donovan timeout. The Gators would trail by as many as seven points before rallying to take a seven-point lead of their own.
That seven point lead would come at the 7:36-mark, as the Gators led 57-50. With his team reeling, Kentucky’s John Calipari called a timeout.
Despite having a quieted crowd and an opponent backed to the wall, the Gators simply could not capitalize. Florida would be outscored 11-0 to end the game.
Murphy would finish with a game-high 17 points. Boynton would not take a single shot in the second half until the clock read 17 seconds.
Florida still has the No. 1 seed in the SEC Tournament, which starts on March 13th in Nashville.