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Tuesday, September 26, 2023
Florida forward Colin Castleton holds the ball in the Gators 81-60 victory against the South Carolina Gamecocks Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2023.
Florida forward Colin Castleton holds the ball in the Gators 81-60 victory against the South Carolina Gamecocks Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2023.

Florida graduate student guard Myreon Jones launched a deep triple to cut the Kentucky Wildcats’ lead to three points with 38 seconds left in the game. 

Jones caught a pass on Florida’s next possession with a chance to tie the game. He was swarmed by two Wildcats defenders and forced up a shot that missed long, and the Gators fell on the road. 

The Florida Gators (13-10, 6-4 SEC) were defeated by Kentucky (16-7, 7-3 SEC ) 72–67 in Rupp Arena Saturday night. The Wildcats outscored the Gators in transition 14-0. 

Florida graduate student forward Colin Castleton led both teams in scoring with 25 points. He also tallied eight rebounds, five assists and three blocks. UF finished the game shooting 42% from the field and 32% from beyond the arc. 

The Wildcats were on the attack early and scored the game’s first five points. Castleton accounted for the Gator’s first points when he battled down low to score a layup. 

Florida’s defense got going early and held the Wildcats to 2-11 from the field, but UF’s offense lagged behind with a 1-8 start. 

Florida sophomore guard Kowacie Reeves drove along the baseline, made a layup, and converted a three-point play. Reeves raced to the basket again and drew a foul a few plays later. He hit both free throws. 

The Gators entered a shooting slump midway through the first half. UF went on a nearly three-minute-long scoring drought. 

Kentucky guard Cason Wallace stole the ball and passed it to guard CJ Fredrick, who finished a fast-break layup and hit a free throw to cap off a three-point play. The score pushed the Wildcats' run to six straight and extended their lead to double digits. 

Gators graduate student guard Kyle Lofton ended UF’s scoring drought with a layup. Sophomore guard Will Richard drilled Florida’s first 3-pointer of the game a few possessions later.

UF freshman guard Riley Kugel spun around his defender and drove to the basket for a layup to cut the deficit to single digits. Castleton pump faked and pivoted to open space for an easy floater a few series later. Lofton finished another layup to score UF’s sixth straight point. 

Kentucky forward Jacob Toppin scored a layup coming out of a timeout to stop the Gators’ run. Toppin spun around a Florida defender to make his second basket in a row.

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Frederick drained a three from the top of the arc to cap off a 7-0 Wildcats run. Kentucky went into halftime with a 33-22 lead against the Gators. 

Florida failed to put up any points in the last three minutes of the first half. UF shot just 7-26 from the field and 1-6 from 3-point range in the half. 

The Gators' defense slowed Kentucky forward Oscar Tshiebwe — the team’s leading scorer — in the first half. Tshiebwe hit his first shot but missed his next seven. 

Castleton opened the second half with a block on Tshiebwe. He finished a put-back layup to score UF’s first bucket of the second period, 

Richard grabbed his own miss and put it back to keep the game close. He stole the ball in his own half of the court and quickly drove to the cup for a layup to make his second straight shot. Lofton cut the lead to four with a 3-pointer.

Kentucky followed Lofton’s make with a 6-0 run to push its lead to 10. Lofton hit his second triple to end the run. 

The Wildcats made seven straight shots en route to a 12-point lead midway through the second half. Fredrick connected on a three to extend the lead. 

Kugel made a backdoor cut and caught the ball for an easy dunk to keep Florida within single digits of Kentucky. 

The Gators and Wildcats continued to trade baskets. Kentucky forward Chris Livingston stole the ball at midcourt and finished a layup to make the Wildcats’ third basket in a row.

Kentucky’s lead continued to swell after Wallace converted a three-point play. Lofton kept Florida in the game with this third 3-pointer — he finished the game 3-3 from deep.

Castleton buried a floater over Tshiebwe to cap off a 7-0 UF run. Kentucky guard Sahvir Wheeler ended the scoring streak with an easy layup. 

Wallace and Richard traded threes with under three minutes to go. Castleton attacked Tshiebwe down low for a three-point play. He drew contact, and Tshiebwe fouled out with 1:38 left in the game.

Tshiebwe finished with two points and was just 2-14 from the field. He grabbed 15 rebounds. 

Castleton battled down low again and scored to bring Florida within four with one minute left. 

Jones rainbowed a deep three to cut the deficit to one possession late. The Gators got the ball with a chance to tie, but Jones was double-teamed and missed a 3-pointer. 

Wallace hit a pair of free throws to put the game away. He led the Wildcats in scoring with 20 points and went 7-10 from the field. Toppin finished with a double-double; he had 17 points and 10 rebounds. 

The Gators will stay on the road to take on the No. 4 Alabama Crimson Tide Wednesday. The game will tip off at 9 p.m. and will be broadcast on ESPN2. 

Contact Jackson Reyes at Follow him on Twitter @JacksnReyes.

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Jackson Reyes

Jackson Reyes is a UF journalism senior and The Alligator's Fall 2023 Sports Editor. He previously served as Digital Managing Editor and was a reporter and assistant editor on the sports desk. In his free time, he enjoys collecting records, long walks on the beach and watching Bo Nix.

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