By: Charles Kane (@ckane02)
No. 7 Florida has its 15th straight 20-win season after defeating No. 25 Kentucky 69-52 Tuesday night in Gainesville.
Florida (20-3) has won all 15 of the 20-win seasons under Billy Donovan. Before Donovan’s arrival the Gators had just five 20-win seasons in 77 years.
Kentucky (17-7) not only lost the game but also lost its prominent player in Nerlens Noel. After aggressively blocking a shot out-of-bounds he landed awkwardly on his knee and immediately began screaming in pain as he fell to the floor. Noel was limited to the second-lowest minute total all year (23) and a season-low six rebounds before leaving late in the second half. He did put up a respectable three blocks before his departure. X-Rays were negative on his knee.
Patric Young had an efficient night posting a double-double with 12 points on 5-7 shooting, 11 rebounds and four blocks. Scottie Wilbekin put up a game-high 14 points and eight assists. Casey Prather was proficient once again coming off the bench with 12 points on 6-8 shooting and added two blocks. Florida as a team put up one of its best blocking efforts for the season with nine in total. Kenny Boynton made his 128th career start which ties him with Andrew DeClercq (1992-95) for most in school history.
Florida’s defense for the past three games was very different from the first 20. The Gators gave up 53.1 points per game in the first 20 games and 67.3 in the last three. Florida played better defense Tuesday limiting the Wildcats to just 52 points on 21-50 shooting (42%). The Gators also forced a season-tying 11 turnovers for the Wildcats in the first half. Kentucky had 11 turnovers and 10 field goals at halftime.
The Gators snapped Kentucky’s five-game winning streak. Florida is now 12-0 at home, winning each of those games by double-digits. The Gators have beaten a total of five BPI top-40 teams by an average of 22.6 points. Florida now leads Kentucky by two games in the Southeastern Conference standings. The Gators’ next game is Feb. 16 at 1:30 p.m. at Auburn (9-14).
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