Florida at Kentucky (Saturday, 8:30 pm) - Florida Gators (2023)

Florida atKentucky

Florida at Kentucky (Saturday, 8:30 pm) - Florida Gators (1)
* When:Saturday, 8:30 p.m. (ET)
* Where:Rupp Arena/ Lexington, Ky.
* Records: Florida (13-9, 6-3) / Kentucky (15-7, 6-3)
* TV:ESPN (Tom Hartand Jimmy Dykes)
* Radio: Gator Sports Network from LEARFIELD (Sean Kelleyand Lee Humphrey)

Projected Starters

Florida at Kentucky (Saturday, 8:30 pm) - Florida Gators (2)
FloridaPositionHeight / WeightClassStatistics
Colin CastletonF6-11 / 2405th-Senior15.1 pts / 7.7 reb / 3.0 blk
Will RichardG6-5/ 206Sophomore10.1 pts / 4.6 reb
Riley KugelG6-5 / 207Freshman6.6 pts 2.5 reb
Myreon JonesG6-3 / 1775th-Senior5.3 pts / 3.0 reb
Kyle LoftonG6-3 / 1885th-Senior8.8 pts / 3.0 reb / 3.1 ast
KentuckyPositionHeight / WeightClassStatistics
Jacob ToppinF6-9 / 205Junior11.5 pts / 6.3 reb
Oscar TshiebweF6-9 / 260Senior16.5 pts / 13.6 reb
Chris LivingstonF6-6 / 220Freshman5.4 pts / 2.9 reb
CJ FrederickG6-3 / 185Senior7.4 pts / 0.9 reb
Sahvir WheelerG5-9 / 180Senior7.7 pts / 2.3 reb / 5.7 ast

The Breakdown

Florida at Kentucky (Saturday, 8:30 pm) - Florida Gators (3)
(Video) 1993 Florida @ UK - Game Winning Drive

Setup / Series / Last Meeting

Florida and Kentucky play the first of their two annual meetings and this one offers a little more intrigue than what may have been anticipated a couple weeks ago, with the teams locked in a two-way tie for fifth place in the Southeastern Conference standings and fighting for position on the NCAA Tournament bubble. ... The Gators have won six of seven in league play and are coming off their biggest win of the season, a 67-54 rocking Wednesday of second-ranked Tennessee at Gainesville, a victory the team desperately needed to get back in the NCAA conversation. The Wildcats have bounced back from a dastardly home defeat against South Carolina on Jan. 10 by winning five straight SEC games, including Tuesday's 75-66 roadieat Ole Miss. ... Kentucky leads the all-time series 107-41, including a 53-11 mark at home that includes last season's 78-57 blowout win that represented the largest margin of victory by the Wildcats in the series since 1998. The '22 rematch in Gainesville was closer, but UK got another big performance from All-America forward Oscar Tshiebwe, who scored 27 points, grabbed 15 rebounds and carded three steals in a 71-63 road win on an afternoon UF said "thank you" to a group of seniors, including forward Keyontae Johnson, who suited up and dribbled out a mock tip-off before leaving the floor to a standing ovation. Tshiebwe went on to hit 11 of his 16 field-goal attempts and go 5-for-5 from the free-throw line, with point guard Sahvir Wheeler adding 13 points and four assists and shooting guard Kellan Grady 11 points. UK shot 50 percent from the floor, while holding UF to 39 percent and just 3-for-23 from the 3-point line (13 percent). ... Kentucky coach John Calipari is 21-9 against the Gators, including 8-5 on the road. Florida coach Todd Golden, in his first year at UF,will be facing the Wildcats for the first time in his four seasons as a head coach.

Tale of the Tape

71.4Scoring 75.3
.435Field-goal percentage .458
.3243-point percentage.366
64.5Scoring defense66.8
.391Field-goal percentage defense.426
.3043-point percentage defense.332
38thKenPom.com overall ranking34th
146thKenPom.com offensive efficiency24th
8thKenPom.com defensive efficiency65th
78thKenPom.com adjusted tempo267th
41stNCAA Evaluation Tool (NET) ranking31st
17thOverall strength of schedule ranking49th

Team Snapshots

The Gators

With the biggest win of the season, UF rocketednine spots up on the NCAA Evaluation Tool ratings (to No. 41)and now has not one, but two moreconsecutive Quadrant 1 opportunities to add to its power numbers, as road dates at both Kentucky and Alabama no doubt will remain Q1s for the balance of the season. Of the two, obviously, the first looks the most favorable, which is saying

Florida at Kentucky (Saturday, 8:30 pm) - Florida Gators (4)

something (probably more so about Alabama), given the Gators' infrequent history of winning at Rupp. If the Gators are in the game it will almost certainly be because of a defense that ranks eighth nationally in overall efficiency and just out-defended the No. 1-rated team in the country by holding the Volunteers to 27.9 percent from the floor and 20.0 from the 3-point line, despite getting blasted on the boards, 43-36, including 18-5 on the offensive glass. Meanwhile, against that top-ranked UT defense that was giving up just 34.5-percent overall shooting, 22 from the 3-point line and 54.5 points per game, the Gators (just 147th nationally in offense)had one of their most efficient outputs of the season, especially given the opponent: 44 percent, 35 from deep (7 of 20) and outscored Tennessee's defensive average by 12 points. ... Something to watch this game: Four Florida starters played at least 32 minutes against Tennessee. Is that the rotation and the roles Golden and his staff have settled on?... Forward Colin Castleton took the game over in the second half on his way to 20 points, nine rebounds and 8-for-8 from the free-throw line. Doing so against the vaunted Vols' front court was impressive, but now he gets a third crack at Tshiebwe, who pretty much had his way on both ends in two games against the Gators last season. ... Will Richard, playing an undersized forwardin his third start in UF'ssmall ball lineup,had nine points and used his 7-foot wingspan to grab seven rebounds and block a couple shots. The Gators will need more of the same from him against the Cats. ... Point guard Kyle Loftonand off-guard Myreon Jones, the fifth-year backcourt, combined for 23 points, seven rebounds, eight assists and three turnovers against UT, while also making seven of 12 shots and four of seven 3s,thoroughly outplaying the more heralded backcourt of Santiago Vescovi and Zakai Zeigler. ... Guard Riley Kugel, who made his third straight start, was a little loose with the ball (3 turnovers), but was a factor on the boards with six rebounds. ... Backup guard Trey Bonham(4.0 ppg, 2.0 rpg in SEC play) had his most productive performance in eight games. Bonham scored seven points in the previous seven games, but hopped off the bench to hit a big transition 3 in the first half and scored five points in 14 minutes, while giving his senior teammates a blow with regard to defending the likes of Vescovi and Zeigler. ... Sophomore forward Alex Fudge (7.0 ppg, 4.7 rpg) played just 16 minutes off the bench, the most of any UF reserve, finishing with four points and two rebounds. Two more backups, wing Kowacie Reeves (8.6ppg, 2.9 rpg) and center Jason Jitoboh (2.5 ppg, 1.4 rpg) combined for just over 11 minutes.

(Video) Florida Football: Chris Leak Flashback - Kentucky 2003

The Wildcats

It's the 14th season under Calipari, who again has weathered the angst of Big Blue Nation because yet another season won't end with a 40-0 record. Yes, that's sarcasm, but, yes, that's the expectation in the Commonweath, as unrealistic as it sounds. The Wildcats definitely have had some tough moments this season, with early losses to Michigan State, Gonzaga and UCLA, a trio of excellent programs, of course, but the Big Blue Bloods don't want to

Florida at Kentucky (Saturday, 8:30 pm) - Florida Gators (5)

hear that. UK was trashed in league play by both Missouri (by 14) and Alabama (by 26) on the road, but the home loss to South Carolina really put the fanbase on edge. More so than the team, it seems, as Calipari has righted the ship for that run of five straight league wins, albeit with a home loss to reigning national champion Kansas last weekend in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge. ... The status of freshman point guard Cason Wallace (11.3 ppg, 3.6 rpg, team-best 43 steals), the 2022McDonald All-American from Dallas, is uncertain. The 6-4, 195-pound Wallace, a game-day scratch Tuesday at Ole Miss due to a knee injury suffered in the KU loss, had been one of the biggest reasons for UK's turnaround, having replaced diminutive Sahvir Wheeler in the starting lineup, sliding from his off-guard spot, and using his size on the attack tohelpgenerate a better all-around brand of offense.The Cats also miss his scoring, especially his 3-point shooting of 41 percent.... Kentucky's strength is offense, but not because it runs a bunch of great stuff. Because of Tshiebwe, who is the centerpiece of one of the best offensive rebounding teams in the country. The Cats average 37.5 percent on the offensive glass, which is less than a percentage point below the Vols, who obliteratedUF underneath. In two games against Castleton and the Gators last season, Tshiebwetotaled 54 points, made 22 of his 34 shots (64.7 percent), 10 of 11 free throws, grabbed 33 rebounds (13 on the offensive end) and had six steals while playing 38 minutes each game. Castleton is a better player than he was last season, and will have to be Saturday night. ... Wheeler returned to the starting lineup against Ole Miss and finished with nine assists and just one turnover over 33 minutes. ... Forward Jacob Toppin is not a good 3-point shooter (20.7 percent), but iseffective around the paint (49 percent from 2) and is a very good rebounder and defender. His size could present a matchup problem for Richard, if that's the way the Gators opt to go on defense. ... Freshman wing Chris Livingston will need to be accounted both inside and out, while CJ Frederick, the transfer from Iowa, will mostly float the arc, with 29 of his 47 field goals being 3-pointers. ... Guard Antonio Reeves (13.4 ppg), by way of Illinois State, was one of the top players in the portal last offseason. He'snow UK's top reserve, but also its second-leading scorer. He's shooting 43 percent on the season, but 40 from deep with team highs of 52 makes on 126 attempts.

Numbers of Note

Florida at Kentucky (Saturday, 8:30 pm) - Florida Gators (6)
(Video) 2007 CFB Week 8: #14 Florida @ #8 Kentucky FULL GAME (Tim Tebow)

* .172— UF's all-time winning percentage at Lexington, based on that 11-53 record, a mark that includes six wins over the last 25 years (1998, 2006, '07, '14, 18 and '21).

* .430— Shooting percentage surrendered by the Gators from the 2-point area, which ranks seventh in the country and second in the SEC behind Alabama (fifth at .428).

* 1— Where Castleton ranks in the SEC in blocked shotsat 3.1 per game, as the Gators' big is making a case for the 2023 All-SEC Defensive team (maybe evenSEC Defensive Player of the Year).

(Video) College Basketball Picks & Predictions Today 2/4/23 | Ron's Bank Shot Breakdown

* 2021— The last year Florida won at Lexington.Seven weeks after getting run out of the O'Dome by 22, the Gators rode 21 points and eight rebounds from guard Tre Mann to claim a 71-67 victory, just the 11th in program history, at UK.Mann hit seven of his 11 field-goal tries, both attempts from the 3-point line, and five of six free throws. UF trailed by one at halftime, but shot 52 percent in the second half and iced the game by going 10-for-12 from the free-throw line, while holding UK to just 33 percent after the break.

* 5,042— Career minutes played by Lofton, which now ranks him fifth among NCAAplayers over the last 25 seasons.

Bottom Line

Another incredibly difficult challenge for the Gators. Also another incredible opportunity.

(Video) Honorary Mr. 2 Bits: Back-To-Back National Champions


1. Florida Football: Gators Beat Tennessee
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2. Florida Football: Home Swamp Home
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3. Mason Dixon Cheer Competiion
4. 2004: Florida Gators vs. #8 Florida State Seminoles
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6. NCAAF 2022 Week #1 - Utah Utes @ Florida Gators
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