Everything you need to know about Kentucky vs Florida
Who: #6 Kentucky 25-5 (14-3) vs Florida 17-13 (9-8)
When: 2pm on Saturday
Where: Rupp Arena
About Florida: The Gators are projected to be an NCAA tournament team but they are certainly a bubble team at this point. They could lock up a bid with a win against Kentucky on the road but a loss shouldn’t hurt them a lot. They will need to take care of business and win a game in the SEC tournament to put themselves in a good spot on selection Sunday. As a team they are one of the best defensive teams in the conference. On the flip side they are one of the more flawed offensive teams in the league. Much of that is due to a lack of post players because of injuries. It has forced them to play small with four guards at times. In the first meeting with Kentucky they led the game for the majority of the contest before their offense went stagnant and let the Cats take over the game. Jalen Hudson has had a disappointing season for them but recently he has began to play much better. Against LSU on Wednesday he scored 33 points in a break out game for him. When he plays well it makes the Gators a much more dangerous team. They shoot a lot of 3’s but they don’t necessarily make a lot. When they are at their best they play very tough half court defense and create turnovers that lead to scoring opportunities in the open court. If they get hot from outside they can beat almost any team in the country but when they go cold they are very beatable. Being unable to score the ball down the stretch has cost them a lot of games this season. Their lack of size has lead to a big disadvantage on the backboards and that will likely be a big issue for them on Saturday.
What’s at stake for Kentucky: There is a lot on the line for this game besides the fact that it will be Senior day for Jonny David and Reid Travis. The Cats are battling to get a top seed in the NCAA tournament and a loss to Florida would do serious damage to their hopes of a 1 seed or top 2 seed. SEC tournament seeding is on the line as well. If Tennessee loses to Auburn and Kentucky beats Florida it will allow the Cats to be the 2 seed in the SEC tournament. The big thing about that is that they wouldn’t have to play the 9:30 pm game on Friday night. Historically, teams have not fared well out of that spot. If Auburn wins and Vanderbilt upsets LSU it would allow Kentucky to share in the SEC regular season championship. That seems unlikely since Vandy is win less and the game is at LSU. But with the news breaking of potential NCAA violations by Will Wade, it would not be a shock for LSU to play poorly tomorrow. It is also a chance for Kentucky to get one final tune up before the start of tournament play. It is unclear if Reid Travis will be available to play or not but it would be great to see him get to knock the rust of and play 10 minutes or so. A dominant performance by the Cats could give them great momentum going into the SEC tournament next week.
What will happen: The Gators will come in desperate for a win. That will give them enough energy to keep the game competitive for the majority of the contest. I think that Kentucky will be very focused going into this game and that will make it extremely hard for the Gators to pull the upset. I am guessing that Reid Travis will come back and play just a few minutes tomorrow. The Cats will own the glass and be too much for Florida to handle tomorrow. Kentucky will stretch out the lead in the second half and win the game 74-62. PJ Washington will break the 20 point barrier for the first time in a couple weeks. Next up, Nashville.