There are so many reasons to pick Kentucky to defeat visiting Florida on Saturday afternoon.
First, there is UK’s home winning streak, which sits at 32 games (31 of which came under current coach John Calipari). Second, is that UF is just 8-44 all-time in Lexington, including games at Memorial Coliseum and spacious Rupp Arena. Third, the 22nd-ranked Wildcats (19-8, 7-6 in the Southeastern Conference) need this one a little more than No. 13 UF (22-5, 11-2), which has clinched at worst a tie for the East crown, and UK is 7-1 in “bounce-back games” this year.
So, why am I predicting a 78-74 Gator victory?
It’s all about right now. And right now, I trust Florida a lot more than I trust Kentucky, which just lost in overtime at Arkansas.
The Gators enter the contest having won six straight games by an average of seven points. They are 9-2 away from the O’Connell Center and 7-1 in true road games this year. Additionally, they are 5-0 this season when playing with fewer than three days of rest and visit UK less than 48 hours after defeating Georgia. Florida also snapped Xavier’s 30-game home winning streak in December.
And don’t think the ‘Cats, 1-6 in league play away from Rupp, haven’t noticed how UF has gotten it done in hostile environments.
“When (Florida) is on the road, (the Gators) actually pull out a win,” UK swingman DeAndre Liggins said.” We don’t do that. We sometimes turn the ball over and we are not as aggressive as we should be down the stretch. But Florida – they make plays down the stretch and pull off close games back-to-back.”
And Kentucky coach John Calipari has a theory on why his team is 0-6 in games decided by five points or less and why UF is 9-3 overall and 6-1 in the SEC in games decided by six points or less.
“I think you create opportunities and what they do is create opportunities for themselves,” said Calipari, going for his 500th career victory on Saturday. “You watch our game (in Gainesville), we were up three and all of a sudden we kick one off a guy’s foot, foul a guy and don’t defensive rebound three times and they came up after us and were the aggressive team.
“I think what they do is they’ve got players that expect to win and they make plays. I don’t know if there’s a whole lot of luck to it. Just about every game has been a wire-to-wire close game.”
Calipari said the experience difference in the two teams could be a major reason why Florida, which starts three seniors, has proven to be clutch, while UK, with three freshman starters, has not.
“I think we’re just inexperienced, trying to figure it out,” Calipari said. ”We have freshmen and inexperienced other players who were never in close games, and so now they’re all in there trying to figure out who’s doing what. You would hope by this time we would have figured it out. Most of it, again, if you go back to the games it isn’t even an execution play as much as it is defensively or rebound, those kind of plays. And that’s just an effort play. You have to want it worse than that other team.
“Like I said, the great thing about being in this league is, you have resume-building games just about every week. The bad news in this league, you’ve got resume-building games every game you turn around. That’s the good and the bad of it. That’s the good stuff for us. We get an opportunity to play a great team, a highly ranked team that may be top 10. If they’re not, they probably should be the way they’re playing.
“They (have) talented guards. They’ve got a deep team. (Coach Billy Donovan is) playing eight or nine guys, so he’s got some room for error for guy’s not playing well. (They even) played well without (Chandler) Parsons, (though) much better with him, obviously.”
WEEKEND SEC PICKS
Arkansas 55, Auburn 50; Vanderbilt 73, LSU 59; upset special: Mississippi 64, Alabama 61; Tennessee 70, Mississippi State 69; Georgia 81, South Carolina 72
FIVE QUESTIONS FOR/ANSWERS FROM
1. Opponents are shooting just .398 from the floor against the Bulldogs. The last time these two teams played, UF entered shooting .461 and shot exactly that for the game. This time, the Gators enter shooting .457. How will they fare this time around against a tenacious Dawg defense?
Answer: The Gators shot pretty badly in the first half (10-of-27 for 37 percent) and pretty well in the second (15-of-28 for 53.6 percent) to finish 25-for-55 (45.5 percent).
2. When these two teams first met, Kenny Boynton was very assertive on the offensive end, getting to the foul line 12 times and making all of them. Will he once again go hard to the hoop and draw contact. And if so, will he even come close to match that 12-for-12 performance?
Answer: Boynton went 5-for-6 from the line, making him a combined 17-for-18 on foul shots in two meetings with the Bulldogs.
3. In the first meeting of the year, starting power forwards Alex Tyus and Trey Thompkins combined to make just 10-of-31 shots. Will one or both have a better shooting night the second time around?
Answer: Tyus made half of his 10 shots and both of his foul shots for 12 points. Thompkins was 7-of-16 from the field and 2-of-5 from the foul line for 16 points. So, this time, they were a combined 12-for-26.
4. Georgia doesn’t have just one player in the top five in the SEC in assists, it has two. Dustin Ware (3.9 apg) is tied for third, while Gerald Robinson (3.8) is fifth. In the first game between the two teams, Ware and Robinson each had three assists in a double-overtime contest. Will the Gators do another good job defending those two outstanding passers?
Answer: Robinson had a game-high six assists, but Ware had just one.
5. Can Chandler Parsons go, and if so, how much can he contribute and how many minutes will he play?
Answer: Parsons showed he is a tough guy and played well (especially in the second half) through pain, though his stamina wasn’t what it usually is, though that was expected. He came off the bench to make 7-of-12 shots (including 2-of-5 three-pointers) for 16 points to go along with seven rebounds, a team-high four assists, a steal and a blocked shot in 30 turnover-free minutes. After the game, he estimated himself at 80- to 85-percent, and when asked if he could give a percentage as to where he was two days earlier when UF played at LSU (the game he missed), Parsons said he couldn’t, adding “I couldn’t even stand up without it hurting really bad.” Parsons put in about five hours-a-day of painful rehab to be ready to go. He loves this team and would have deserved a pat on the back even if he hadn’t played all that well.
FIVE QUESTIONS FOR
1. Kentucky’s standout freshman point guard Brandon Knight was 4-of-5 from three-point range when these two teams met in the O’Connell Center (though the one he missed would have been the game-winner). Will he be as effective from deep this time around?
2. Chandler Parsons said that continuing to play will not worsen his deep thigh bruise, though the pain is something he said he probably will have to deal with the rest of the season. That said, Parsons played 30 minutes 43 hours earlier against Georgia, so there may be some additional soreness on Saturday because he hasn’t had much rest. Will that affect his play?
3. Statistically, the first game between these two teams was about as even as you can find. Both teams grabbed 32 rebounds, had six steals and blocked five shots. The assist totals also were close (15-14 UF). How will things play out this time?
4. Alex Tyus, Kenny Boynton, Erving Walker and Vernon Macklin combined to go 14-for-14 from the foul line in the first meeting with the Wildcats, as UF was 18-for-22 as a team. In a not-so-friendly environment, can Florida as efficient this time around on the freebies?
5. Two SEC player of the year candidates did not shoot well in the first meeting. Kentucky forward Terrence Jones made just 7-of-18 shots, while UF point guard Erving Walker had his worst shooting game of the season (1-for-9). Will the Wildcats and Gators get more efficient shooting this time around from their leading scorers?
Chandler Parsons and Alex Tyus will see their Gator careers wind down in the next month or so, and recently they passed Matt Bonner to enter Florida’s all-time top-5 in games played.
1. Walter Hodge (2006-09)- 151
2. Chris Richard (2004-07) & Dan Werner (2007-10)- 141
4. Lee Humphrey (2004-07)- 136
5. Parsons & Tyus (2008-present)- 132
Here is a breakdown of Florida’s 1913 points this year by class:
Freshmen- 216 (11.29 percent)
Sophomores- 471 (24.62 percent)
Juniors- 374 (19.55 percent)
Seniors- 816 (42.66 percent)
GAME 28 PREVIEW
No. 13 FLORIDA GATORS (22-5, 11-2)
Position: Players, Height/Weight, Year, 2010-11 statistics
G: Erving Walker, 5-8/171, JR, 14.8 points per game, 3.2 assists per game
G: Kenny Boynton, 6-2/183, SO, 13.3 points per game, 2.3 assists per game
F: Chandler Parsons, 6-10/218, SR, 11.0 points per game, 7.7 rebounds per game
F: Alex Tyus, 6-8/220, SR, 8.7 points per game, 5.3 rebounds per game
C: Vernon Macklin, 6-10/240, SR, 11.3 points per game, 6.0 rebounds per game
Head coach: Billy Donovan (353-144 in 15th season at Florida; 388-164 in 17th season as a head coach)
No. 22 KENTUCKY WILDCATS (19-8, 7-6)
Position: Players, Height/Weight, Year, 2010-11 statistics
G: Brandon Knight, 6-3/182, FR, 17.4 points per game, 4.0 assists per game
G: Doron Lamb, 6-5/195, FR, 13.3 points per game, 2.1 rebounds per game
G/F: Darius Miller 6-7/228, JR, 10.4 points per game, 4.9 rebounds per game
F: Terrence Jones, 6-8/244, FR, 17.6 points per game, 9.1 rebounds per game
C: Josh Harrellson, 6-10/275, SR, 6.6 points per game, 8.8 rebounds per game
Head coach: John Calipari (54.11 in 2nd season at Kentucky and 499-151 in 22 seasons overall)
When: Saturday, Feb. 26 at 4 p.m.
Where: Rupp Arena (Lexington, Ky.)
TV/Radio: CBS/Gator Radio Network
Tickets: Yeah, right… As always at UK, this game is sold out. Try a scalper.
Notable: Kentucky leads the all-time series, 88-33, and have won the three most recent meetings between the two teams in Rupp Arena. That said, Florida has won 9-of-the-last-13 games in the series, including a 70-68 thriller against the then-No. 10 Wildcats on Feb. 5 in Gainesville. . … Billy Donovan is 13-18 against UK during his time at Florida. He was 0-2 versus Kentucky while at Marshall. … Since these two teams last played, UK has replaced defensive stopper DeAndre Liggins with sharpshooter Doron Lamb in the starting lineup. … Since the last game, Kentucky’s Darius Miller has seen his rebound average drop from 6.7 rpg to 4.9 rpg. … Wildcats’ coach John Calipari recently drew some local criticism for not going deep into his bench until the final two minutes of a 90-59 home victory against South Carolina last weekend. He said it was because the Gamecocks continued to press. This could be a serious issue for UK going forward, as the Wildcats two biggest problems are an inability to match up with good centers and a lack of depth. In a confusing bit of reasoning, Calipari has said the best way for players to improve and gain confidence is through game play. Yet, in blowout scenarios, he won’t allow rarely used subs a chance to gain that experience and confidence. UK’s top six or seven players are overworked, and against deep teams like UF, the Wildcats could be in self-inflicted trouble if the determining factor is who is better rested late. … This game includes a few common bonds. Knight and Boynton were AAU teammates and prep rivals at Fort Lauderdale Pine Crest (Knight) and Plantation American Heritage. One of Boynton’s American Heritage teammates was UK reserve center Eloy Vargas, a former Gator. Also, Florida’s backup center Patric Young was a high school teammate of UK’s Stacey Poole (whose father arguably is one of UF’s 15 all-time greatest players). … The Gators are looking to win their seventh straight SEC game. That would be their longest conference streak since opening with 11 straight league victories in 2006-07. … With a win, UF will have eight true road wins for the first time in the Billy Donovan Era. The last time Florida won eight true road games was 1993-94. … The Gators are 19-1 (8-0 in the SEC) when holding opponents to 70 points or fewer. … Florida is 14-3 this year when Walker and Boynton combine to score at least 25 points. … UF is 9-1 this year when Parsons takes at least 10 shots. … Parsons needs 11 points to tie Livingston Chatman for 20th on Florida’s official all-time scoring list. He enters the Kentucky game with 1,330 career points. Parsons also is 53 rebounds shy of passing Udonis Haslem for 10th all-time at UF. … Kentucky is averaging 80.2 points on 47.8-percent shooting the last five games. However, the Wildcats are just 3-2 during that stretch. … UK is making 39.6 percent of its three-pointers this season. Doron Lamb (.486) leads the SEC and Darius Miller (.451) is second. Knight (.396) is ninth, one spot ahead of UF’s top three-point (percentage) shooter, Chandler Parsons (.390). … Knight (4.0 apg) ranks second in the SEC to Vanderbilt’s Brad Tinsley (4.3 apg) in assists. Parsons is tied for sixth (3.6 apg) and Walker is 10th (3.2 apg). … Kentucky is 14-1 this year when holding opponents to less than 40-percent shooting. … UK is the only school in the conference to have two players rank in the top five in scoring (Jones and Knight) and rebounding (Jones and Harrellson). Knight also is the only player in the conference in the top five in scoring and assists. … Two little-talked-about players in this game actually lead the SEC in rebounds-per-40-minutes. Florida’s Will Yeguete (15.2) is first, while Harrellson (13.5) ranks second. Jones is a distant third (11.6). … The Gators already have surpassed their 2009-10 win total of 21. … Kentucky is limiting opponents to .388 shooting. UF was 23-of-53 (.434) in the year’s first encounter between the two teams. … Parsons needs four assists to reach 300 for his career. … At 45-36 (.556), Florida is the only team in the SEC that has a winning record against ranked opponents the last 11 years. Kentucky is 50-53 (.486), just ahead of Tennessee’s 34-37 (.479) during that time. … With a win Saturday, Florida will tie UK for the most SEC road wins over the last 11 years (50). The Wildcats have not helped themselves this year by going 1-6 on the road in league play. Putting that into perspective, Louisiana State (3-10 in the SEC this year) has two conference road wins, while Auburn (2-11) has just as many as Kentucky. … With 87 more points, UF will have 2,000 as a team this year. … Half of Parsons’ 18 career double-figure rebounding games have come this year. … Boynton is 13-of-14 from the foul line in the final three minutes of games this year. Walker is 30-for-40, while Parsons is 7-for-11. Tyus, a 66.3-percent foul shooter, is just 1-for-6. … Tyus needs 12 rebounds to reach 700 for his career. He also is one steal away from 50. With three more assists, the senior power forward will have 25 for the year, eclipsing his previous high of 24, set his sophomore season. … Freshman point guard Scottie Wilbekin has taken care of the ball very well this year. He is averaging one turnover every 23.35 minutes. He is two assists and one steal away from 50 and 30 in those two respective categories for the season. … Walker is 11 assists away from reaching 350 and three rebounds from 250 for his career. He also is nine points shy of 1,200. When he reaches that mark, the Gators will have three players (Walker, Parsons and Tyus) with at least 1,200 career points. … Parsons needs 21 rebounds to reach 800 for his career and four assists to get to 300. … Sophomore forward Erik Murphy needs nine rebounds to get to 150 for his career. … Knight, who has set a UK freshman record with 12 games of at least 20 points, scored a career-high 26 points in Kentucky’s midweek overtime loss at Arkansas. He also played a career-high 43 minutes (Harrellson added a career-high 42 minutes). Knight is averaging 22.3 points against ranked teams, good for fourth-best in the country. … Macklin’s next rebound will be his 350th as a Gator. He also ranks second in the SEC in field goal percentage (.572) to Mississippi’s Reginald Buckner (.607). … As well as UK shoots the 3, it doesn’t translate to overall shooting. There is no Wildcat regular making at least half of his shots. Lamb (.498) leads the team and ranks 10th in the league, just ahead of No. 11 Parsons (.489). … Kentucky is 162-52 (.757) against the SEC East since the conference split into two divisions in 1991-92. … Florida’s RPI is 12, UK’s is 16. The Gators’ strength of schedule ranks ninth, while the Wildcats are 17th. … Jones has recorded an SEC-best 10 double-doubles this year. He also holds the UK single-game scoring record for a freshman. He put up 35 in a victory against Auburn earlier this year. That broke the record (32) set by Lamb against Winthrop. Interestingly, in their record-setting games, both Lamb and Jones came off the bench. … Arkansas was able to pull down 22 offensive rebounds in its 77-76 overtime victory against Kentucky on Wednesday night. … Lamb has scored 20 points five times this year, but was shut down by the Gators in the first meeting between these two teams. There, he made just 1-of-5 shots for five points. … UK has been ranked every week this season with an AP high of 8 and a coaches’ poll high of 9. The Wildcats are a season-low 22nd in each poll for the second straight week. … Knight and Jones rank second and third, respectively, among freshmen scorers nationally. … A win by UF will give the Gators the SEC East crown outright, regardless of the outcome of their final two conference games (home against Alabama and at Vanderbilt). … Florida is hitting 73.2 percent of its free throws the last five games. … Jones said this week that Kentucky was “two rebounds” away from winning the first meeting between the two teams.
PAST EXAMS AND GATOR(GR)ADES
Game 1: Florida 77, UNC Wilmington 60. Gator Player of the Game: Scottie Wilbekin (3 points, 5 assists, 4 steals); Opposing Player of the Game: Chad Tomko (15 points, 3 assists, 3 rebounds, 2 steals). Patton’s Gator(Gr)ade: B– . Record: 1-0.
Game 2: Ohio State 93, Florida 75. Gator Player of the Game: Vernon Macklin (12 points, 5 rebounds, 1 block); Opposing Players of the Game: David Lighty (26 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal) and Jared Sullinger (26 points, 10 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals). Patton’s Gator(Gr)ade: C. Record: 1-1.
Game 3: Florida 105, North Carolina A&T 55. Gator Player of the Game: Will Yeguete (7 points, 15 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals); Opposing Player of the Game: Thomas Coleman (8 points, 10 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 blocks, 1 steal). Patton’s Gator(Gr)ade: A– . Record: 2-1.
Game 4: Florida 61, Morehead State 55. Gator Player of the Game: Chandler Parsons (13 points, 11 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals); Opposing Player of the Game: Kenneth Faried (20 points, 18 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, 2 blocked shots. Patton’s Gator(Gr)ade: C– . Record: 3-1.
Game 5: Florida 79, Florida Atlantic 63. Gator Players of the Game: Alex Tyus (19 points, 7 rebounds, 1 assist) and Kenny Boynton (21 points, 2 assists, 1 rebound); Opposing Player of the Game: Greg Gantt (17 points, 2 assists, 1 steal). Patton’s Gator(Gr)ade: B-. Record: 4-1.
Game 6: Florida 55, Florida State 51. Gator Player of the Game: Erik Murphy (10 points, 6 rebounds, 1 blocked shot); Opposing Player of the Game: Michael Snaer (15 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists). Patton’s Gator(Gr)ade: A-. Record: 5-1.
Game 7: Central Florida 57, Florida 54. Gator Player of the Game: Vernon Macklin (20 points on 10-of-11 shooting, 8 rebounds); Opposing Player of the Game: Marcus Jordan (18 points, 3 assists, 3 rebounds). Patton’s Gator(Gr)ade: C-. Record: 5-2.
Game 8: Florida 67, American 48. Gator Player of the Game: Chandler Parsons (13 points on 5-of-7 shooting, 8 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals); Opposing Player of the Game: Troy Brewer (17 points, 2 rebounds). Patton’s Gator(Gr)ade: A-. Record: 6-2.
Game 9: Florida 65, Kent State 52. Gator Players of the Game: Alex Tyus (20 points on 10-of-15 shooting, 5 rebounds, 2 steals, 1 assist) and Vernon Macklin (19 points on 9-of-12 shooting, 8 rebounds, 3 blocked shots, 1 steal, 1 assist); Opposing Player of the Game: Carlton Guyton (14 points, 4-of-6 on three-pointers, 3 rebounds, 3 assists). Patton’s Gator(Gr)ade: A-. Record: 7-2.
Game 10: Florida 57, Kansas State 44. Gator Players of the Game: Kenny Boynton (15 points on 6-of-12 shooting, 1 assist, helped limit Pullen to 6-of-17 shooting); Opposing Player of the Game: Jacob Pullen (19 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal). Patton’s Gator(Gr)ade: A-. Record: 8-2.
Game 11: Jacksonville 71, Florida 68 (OT). Gator Player of the Game: Erving Walker (game-high 21 points, 2 assists, 1 rebound); Opposing Player of the Game: Keith McDougald (team-high 18 points – 15 in the second half/overtime, 2 steals, 1 rebound). Patton’s Gator(Gr)ade: D+. Record: 8-3.
Game 12: Florida 66, Radford 55. Gator Player of the Game: Erving Walker (game-high 20 points, including 5-of-7 on 3s, 3 assists, 2 steals); Opposing Player of the Game: Johnathan Edwards (team-high 15 points, 9 rebounds, 1 steal, 1 assist). Patton’s Gator(Gr)ade: C-. Record: 9-3.
Game 13: Florida 71, Xavier 67. Gator Player of the Game: Kenny Boynton (16 points, 6 assists, 2 rebounds, 1 steal); Opposing Player of the Game: Tu Holloway (game-high 26 points, 6 assists, 2 rebounds, 2 steals). Patton’s Gator(Gr)ade: A. Record: 10-3.
Game 14: Florida 84, Rhode Island 59. Gator Player of the Game: Chandler Parsons (18 points, 12 rebounds, 5 assists, 1 steal, 1 blocked shot); Opposing Player of the Game: Delroy James (game-high 23 points, 6 rebounds). Patton’s Gator(Gr)ade: A. Record: 11-3.
Game 15: Florida 77, Mississippi 71. Gator Player of the Game: Erving Walker (20 points, 6 assists, 4 rebounds, 2 steals, 2 turnovers, becomes 47th Gator to record 1,000 career points); Opposing Player of the Game: Chris Warren (20 points, 3 assists, 3 turnovers, 2 rebounds, 1 blocked shot). Buddy’s Gator(Gr)ade: B+. Record: 12-3 (1-0 in the SEC).
Game 16: Florida 81, Tennessee 75 (OT). Gator Player of the Game: Alex Tyus (18 points, 7 rebounds, 3 blocked shots, 1 steal); Opposing Players of the Game: Cameron Tatum (game-high 21 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 blocked shot, 1 steal) and Tobias Harris (18 points, 10 rebounds, 2 blocked shots). Patton’s Gator(Gr)ade: A-. Record: 13-3 (2-0).
Game 17: South Carolina 72, Florida 69 Gator Player of the Game: Patric Young (career-high 12 points, 5 rebounds, 1 blocked shot, 1 steal, 2-for-2 FTs in 19 minutes); Opposing Player of the Game: Bruce Ellington (game-high 23 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal, 4-for-4 on FTs, 1 turnover in 30 minutes). Patton’s Gator(Gr)ade: D+. Record: 13-4 (2-1).
Game 18: Florida 45, Auburn 40 Gator Player of the Game: No award given; Opposing Player of the Game: Earnest Ross (11 points, 3-of-4 three-pointers, 3 rebounds, game-high 3 steals). Patton’s Gator(Gr)ade: D. Record: 14-4 (3-1).
Game 19: Florida 75, Arkansas 43 Gator Players of the Game: Kenny Boynton (20 points, 4-of-7 three-pointers, 4 assists, 1 steal, 0 turnovers, held Razorbacks’ leading scorer, Rotnei Clark, shotless) and Chandler Parsons (career-high 15 rebounds, 5 points, game-high 5 assists); Opposing Player of the Game: Delvon Johnson (12 points, team-high 7 rebounds, 1 blocked shot). Patton’s Gator(Gr)ade: A. Record: 15-4 (4-1).
Game 20: Florida 104, Georgia 91 (2 OT) Gator Players of the Game: Vernon Macklin (career-high 23 points, 10-of-15 from floor, 9 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal), Kenny Boynton (game-high 24 points, 12-of-12 FTs, 2 assists, 2 rebounds, 2 steals) and Erving Walker (game-high 24 points, game-tying 3 at end of first OT, 5 assists, 4 rebounds); Opposing Player of the Game: Trey Thompkins (20 points, game-high 13 rebounds, game-high 3 blocked shots). Patton’s Gator(Gr)ade: A-. Record: 16-4 (5-1).
Game 21: Mississippi State 71, Florida 64 Gator Player of the Game: Erving Walker (team-high 18 points, 5 rebounds, team-high 4 assists, 2 turnovers); Opposing Player of the Game: Dee Bost (game-high 24 points, game-high 5 assists, 3 rebounds, 1 turnover). Patton’s Gator(Gr)ade: C. Record: 16-5 (5-2).
Game 22: Florida 65, Vanderbilt 61 (OT) Gator Player of the Game: Chandler Parsons (team-high 18 points, game-high 11 rebounds with 4 offensive, 3 steals, 2 assists, 1 turnover in 39 minutes); Opposing Player of the Game: John Jenkins (game-high 22 points, 6 rebounds 1 steal, 1 turnover in 42 minutes). Patton’s Gator(Gr)ade: B. Record: 17-5 (6-2).
Game 23: Florida 70, Kentucky 68 Gator Player of the Game: Chandler Parsons (team-high 17 points, game-high 12 rebounds with 3 offensive, 5 assists, 1 blocked shot, no turnovers in 37 minutes); Opposing Player of the Game: Brandon Knight (game-high 24 points, 4-of-5 three-pointers, 6-for-6 FTs, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 blocked shot, 4 turnovers in 36 minutes). Patton’s Gator(Gr)ade: A. Record: 18-5 (7-2).
Game 24: Florida 79, South Carolina 60 Gator Players of the Game: Chandler Parsons (14 points, game-high 12 rebounds, 8 assists, 1 steal) and Erving Walker (season- and game-high 25 points on just 9 shots – making seven, including 4-of-5 three-pointers, 3 assists, 2 steals, just 1 turnover in 36 minutes) ; Opposing Player of the Game: Bruce Ellington (team-high 14 points, 5 rebounds, co-team-high 3 assists, co-team-high 2 steals). Patton’s Gator(Gr)ade: A-. Record: 19-5 (8-2).
Game 25: Florida 61, Tennessee 60 Gator Players of the Game: Erving Walker (team-high 16 points – including 9-for-9 from the foul line, 3 assists, 1 rebound) and Alex Tyus (10 points, 11 rebounds, 2 steals) ; Opposing Player of the Game: Scotty Hopson (game-high 22 points, 3-of-3 on three-pointers, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals). Patton’s Gator(Gr)ade: B. Record: 20-5 (9-2).
Game 26: Florida 68, LSU 61 Gator Player of the Game: Erving Walker (co-team-high 17 points, 4 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal); Opposing Player of the Game: Ralston Turner (game-high 18 points, 4 assists, 2 steals, 1 rebound). Patton’s Gator(Gr)ade: C+. Record: 21-5 (10-2).
Game 27: Florida 71, Georgia 62 Gator Player of the Game: Chandler Parsons (16 points on 7-of-12 shooting, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal, 1 blocked shot, 0 turnovers); Opposing Player of the Game: Travis Leslie (game-high 21 points on 8-of-14 shooting and 4-of-4 foul shooting, 7 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal). Patton’s Gator(Gr)ade: B. Record: 22-5 (11-2).