Kentucky guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander collected a rebound on a missed KeVaughn Allen layup with just over five minutes remaining in the game. Eight seconds later in transition, Gilgeous-Alexander turned the ball over, allowing Florida to respond with two free throws to cut the Wildcats’ lead to 56-55.
During the Gators men’s basketball team's 66-64 win over Kentucky at Rupp Arena on Saturday night, Gilgeous-Alexander’s turnover was just one example of what went wrong for the Wildcats. They finished the game with 16 turnovers, just two players in double-digit figures (10 points each) and the second-lowest point total of the season.
“I feel like we were so much more poised than they were,” UF guard Jalen Hudson said. “I feel like the experience helped.”
Florida benefitted from a poor shooting night for Kentucky. Prior to facing the Gators, the Wildcats were shooting 48.6 percent from the field and 35 percent from beyond the arc. On Saturday, UK shot 40 percent from the floor and just 23.5 percent from the three-point line, both of which were still better than Florida, which also struggled to knock down its shots.
Kentucky’s turnovers, however, limited its offense. In the game’s final 20 minutes, the Wildcats turned the ball over nine times. While it only led to six points for the Gators, the miscues kept the ball out of Kentucky’s possession.
“We showed a lot of resiliency,” UF coach Mike White said. “Turned them over enough (and) defended at a pretty high level.”
Florida’s defense played a huge role in keeping the Wildcats at bay. Two of Kentucky’s leading scorers — Gilgeous-Alexander and guard Kevin Knox — only put up 10 and nine points, respectively, on a combined 8-of-22 shooting from the field.
The scoring troubles from deep forced Kentucky to work the ball inside, where it dropped 38 points in the paint, good for over half of its 64 total points.
UF coach Mike White praised his team’s ability to play a good defensive game.
“This team’s gotten a lot better,” White said. “I know we’re a hell of a lot better defensively than we were in October.”
While their defense stepped up in a big way on Saturday, the Gators were able to get by because of the Wildcats’ mistakes. Kentucky collected more rebounds, made more shots from the field and received more points from its bench.
But the turnovers and the limited scoring helped a smaller Florida team secure the win.
“Every game we go into, we’re the smaller team,” Hudson said. “We kind of take the underdog mentality.”
Follow Jake Dreilinger on Twitter @DreilingerJake and contact him at email@example.com.
UF men's basketball coach Mike White was pleased with his team's defense against Kentucky on Saturday. "We showed a lot of resiliency," he said.