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Donovan doesn't hold Calathes responsible for loss

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Posted: Thursday, February 12, 2009 12:00 am

It's like a horrible nightmare the Gators just can't wake up from.

Nick Calathes stood at the foul line in Rupp Arena on Tuesday night with the ball in his hands and a chance to force overtime.

He missed all three shots - the last intentionally - and UF fell to Kentucky 68-65.

But after Calathes scored a career-high 33 points and practically played as a one-man team the entire night, UF coach Billy Donovan believes Calathes hardly deserves the blame for this one.

"I feel bad for Nick," Donovan said. "If it hadn't have been for Nick, we wouldn't have even been in that situation."

Just moments before Jodie Meeks let go of the game-winning 3-pointer, Calathes found a wide-open Dan Werner for three in the corner.

But with the Gators up 64-63, Werner, who was 1 for 6 on the night, missed and fouled Meeks while trying to chase down the ball in transition.

The Kentucky sharpshooter made both shots, giving the Wildcats a 1-point lead with less than a minute to play, and set the stage for his own late-game heroics.

"I had confidence in Dan," Calathes said. "He's one of the best shooters on our team. I thought he was going to make it, but he missed."

Missing was the only thing his teammates did consistently on Tuesday.

Chandler Parsons (0 for 4 from the field) had his chance at the line to give the Gators some much-needed breathing room with 2:40 left and sent both shots off the back of the iron.

Senior Walter Hodge went 1 for 5 and was ejected from the game after being given a flagrant technical foul for stepping on Kentucky's Perry Stevenson.

"Obviously, Walter, Dan, Chandler shooting the ball - we didn't get a lot out of them," Donovan said.

Werner, Parsons and Hodge were a combined 2 for 15 from the field.

"It was really Nick pretty much carrying us," Donovan said. "He was the total, main reason why we were even in that position."

The Gators once again had a chance to win a game with free throws down the stretch, and once again they failed to do so.

UF missed its last four foul shots of the game while Kentucky converted its final four.

That marked the second time this season the Gators have failed to make free throws at the end of a big road game.

But Calathes said he doesn't believe the missed shots are a trend.

"Not at all," he said. "I'm going to be in that situation again, and I'm going to be ready."

HODGE WILL PLAY AT GEORGIA: The SEC office has confirmed that the senior's ejection Tuesday night was for a flagrant technical foul and not for fighting

Hodge will be available to play in UF's game at Georgia on Saturday.

"I didn't see it," Donovan said. "The officials were judging whether he had intent of stepping on the guy. At the time, Walter was baffled and confused. I don't know if that was Walter's intent, but, you know, it was a veteran crew out there, and I trusted their judgment."

DEFENSIVE SWITCHING: UF guard Ray Shipman said after the game that it was him and not Calathes who was originally supposed to guard Jodie Meeks on Kentucky's final possession of the game.

As the play developed, the two switched, and it was Calathes who came within a fingernail of stopping the Wildcats guard.

"I touched the ball," Calathes said. "I slapped it. And he still got it over me."

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