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Sunday, March 03, 2024

Kentucky guard Joe Crawford didn't want to talk about it.

The "it" being if he thought Kentucky - one of the most storied programs in the country - would ever lose to a Southeastern Conference team seven straight times.

UF joined Notre Dame as the only other team to defeat the Wildcats seven times in a row, something the Fighting Irish did that almost 70 years ago.

The last time Kentucky defeated the Gators, Anthony Roberson, Matt Walsh and David Lee were the big shots in Gainesville.

The Wildcats' (7-9, 1-2 SEC) fall from grace has been slow and steady. Now it looks like they've tripped and keep stumbling over their own two feet.

When Kentucky coach Billy Gillispie left Texas A&M for Lexington, Ky., this wasn't what he imagined. When he first addressed the media after the 81-70 overtime loss Gillispie took a few seconds to stare into the crowd before speaking.

"Y'all want me to say something?" Gillispie said. "It's just a tough loss.

"We didn't guard the ball. We didn't guard the ball screen. We didn't help each other. We didn't talk. We didn't carry out assignments."

While the Wildcats have had to make do without Jodie Meeks (hip flexor) and Derrick Jasper (sprained left knee) for most of their season, Gillispie said injuries are not excuses for the team's poor performance.

Kentucky guard Ramel Bradley said it made him sick that the Wildcats have lost seven straight against the Gators.

One of the biggest storylines coming in was Kentucky freshman forward and leading scorer Patrick Patterson, whom many thought would follow former Amateur Athletic Union teammate and friend Jai Lucas to Gainesville.

UF fans knew it too, as some fans called him a "sellout" and a "momma's boy" for choosing to stay close to his West Virginia home. There was even one sign that read "G'ville Gives Patterson Nightmares."

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Patterson finished with 15 points and eight rebounds, but he never made a big impact on the game and was outplayed by counterpart Marreese Speights.

"It's frustrating for [Patterson] right now, because he wants to be winning," Crawford said. "But he has a bright future."

Patterson was not made available for comment by the Kentucky Sports Information Department.

"I didn't hear any heckling myself," Gillispie said. "That's not very important, and Patrick is not going to be concerned about those types of things."

But Bradley heard what the fans had to say.

"Fans are always going to talk," said Bradley, who turned to the Rowdy Reptiles student section and mouthed "What?" after he hit the game-tying 3-pointer that forced overtime. "They were talking trash to me the whole game, even before the game. When I hit that shot they were kind of quiet for the first time. That felt good."

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