The Florida Gators men’s basketball team (15-7, 6-3 SEC) is hitting the road to Lexington, Kentucky to take on the No. 19 Kentucky Wildcats (16-6, 6-3 SEC) in Rupp Arena on Saturday afternoon at 4 p.m.
Saturday will mark head coach Mike White’s first meeting with the Wildcats as a head coach; however, he did have an extraordinary game in Rupp as a player. He helped Ole Miss take down the eventual 1998 national champions with 16 points and 6 assists. This game also marked one of the Rebels’ two wins in Lexington, Kentucky in program history. White looks to have a similar experience with the Gators this weekend.
- Chris Chiozza had a career-high 17 points and 9 assists in Florida’s most recent matchup against the Arkansas Razorbacks.
- Dorian Finney-Smith has hit a three-ball in 21 straight games, ranking in the top ten longest 3-pointer streaks in school history. He is one of just eight Gators to post at least a 20-game streak.
- Florida’s free throw shooting has been going in an upward trend in recent games after struggling for the beginning of the season. In the Gators’ game on Wednesday they shot 30-for-36 from the line. This put the team’s percentage over the last four games to .796.
The Wildcats are coming off of a two-game losing streak with loses to Kansas and Tennessee on the road. With Kentucky not being the type of team to log a losing streak, they will return home with a fire under them. Not to mention the fact that the Cats have a ridiculous home advantage with Rupp being notorious for its difficulty to play in for opposing teams.
Freshman Jamal Murray is one of the young team’s greatest assets, averaging 17.5 points for game. Murray is a monster from downtown and has hit 58 treys this season. Another powerhouse player is sophomore point guard Tyler Ulis who averages 16.2 points and 6.1 assists per game. Ulis also boasts a .876 free throw percentage.
Heading into this game, the Wildcats sport a 12-0 record at home while the Gators have won five of their past six games. Kentucky will be playing desperately to avoid their first three-game skid under head coach John Calipari, while Florida is feeling confident coming off of some big wins.
In order for the Gators to stay in this game they are going to have to shut down on defense – not allowing their productive offense to get on a roll. Florida will also have to protect the ball, not allowing as many turnovers as they have been because Kentucky will make them pay for those mistakes made.
What this game means:
For Kentucky, winning this game will keep their home record squeaky clean and get them out of their losing streak. They are the ones who are going to be battling on the court to hold their ground at home.
As for Florida, they are trying to prove that they can hang with the big dogs – or cats in this instance. Coming off of some ego-boosting wins, they are feeling happy and confident in themselves as a team. They are finally starting to gel, but they can not get too comfortable or they will give up this game.
Watch for yourself how the game will unfold on CBS and follow along with us here at GatorCountry.com for updates during the game.