Kentucky Blasts Florida 76-58

When things got tough for the Gators they had no response and the Kentucky Wildcats relentlessly attacked them on both sides of the Floor, ultimately resulting in Florida getting blasted 76-58. The score truthfully could have looked a lot worse but in garbage time, which came early, Florida’s reserves went on a bit of a run and made the score look somewhat more presentable. This is the second blowout loss in a row for the Gators after getting embarrassed against Alabama and they’re now back to the drawing board for how to pick up the pieces and try to get the most out of their group of players. They next play Ole Miss, a middle-of-the-pack SEC team, though at this point there isn’t any team the Gators could reasonably run into where you’d think they have a great chance of winning. 

 

Defensive Woes

 

Kentucky came into the game as one of the worst offensive teams in the high major ranks but you wouldn’t know it with how they went at the Gators shooting 56% from the field. Florida simply couldn’t defend straight line drives and struggled to keep their feet in front of the Wildcats’ perimeter players and if the ball got in deep they didn’t have the size to protect the rim and deny easy points. Another indication of Florida’s porous defense was the fact that Kentucky came into the game shooting below 30% from three but went for 46% against Florida, largely a product of the amount of open threes the Gators gave up. Going to a full court press was one attempt the Gators made to change things up and get some stops, but with Kentucky’s athleticism they were able to break it and get 2 on 1 opportunities that were difficult to defend.

 

Offensive Problems

 

It wasn’t just the defense that hurt the Gators as the offense wasn’t looking much better either. They shot 38% from the field and had 16 turnovers, and that field goal percentage was down to 34% before some garbage time buckets raised it up. Florida attempted to run isolation after isolation, a strategy that burned them against Alabama, and against Kentucky it had the same results. Florida doesn’t have a lot of great passers and that may be limiting them in what kind of offensive movement they could have but the isolation-heavy attack is struggling against larger, more athletic teams and for two straight games it has hurt them.

 

Grinder Of The Game

 

One player that had a solid performance for the Gators was Anthony Duruji who played a gritty game, battling on the glass and banging with Kentucky’s physical frontcourt on his way to 15 points and 3 rebounds. On a few occasions he was able to elevate over the pack and finish over some future NBA talent on Kentucky and that show of athleticism showed how special of a player he could be. He had big shoes to fill taking over the power forward spot when Keyontae Johnson went down and while he’s not the same caliber of player he has contributed in a couple of ways and he showed that he could hang with Kentucky.

 

Final Thoughts

 

This loss was, quite frankly, embarrassing for the Gators who got outclassed by a Kentucky team that’s as weak as Calipari has ever had in Lexington. Outside of three-point shooting, where the Gators hit 45% of their attempts, nothing really went right for them and they were hurting on both sides of the ball. Perhaps what was most concerning for the Gators is that they didn’t seem to make any adjustments and that allowed Kentucky to continue stretching their lead going back to the same play calls and the same defensive strategy. There is still plenty of time for Florida to right the ship but this is as tough a week of basketball as they have had in some time.

 

Eric Fawcett
Eric hails from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. His blend of sports and comedy has landed his words on ESPN, Bleacher Report, CBS Sports, Lindy's and others. He loves zone defenses, the extra pass, and a 30 second shot clock. Growing up in Canada, an American channel showing SEC basketball games was his first exposure to Gator hoops, and he has been hooked ever since. You can follow him on Twitter at @Efawcett7.