Kentucky continues their season on Wednesday night as they welcome in the Florida Gators for the first SEC rematch of the year. Kentucky took the first one down in Gainesville, 87-85, and looks to grab another at Rupp Arena and move to 6-2 within the conference.
For Todd Golden, this was seen as a 'prove it' year. So far he has been pretty good as the Gators boast a 14-6 record as well as a 4-3 SEC record. They have solid wins over Georgia and Mississippi State but also have some losses to Ole Miss, Tennessee, and the 'Cats. Sitting right on the bubble for the NCAA Tournament, Florida needs a signature win to boost their resume. A win at Rupp Arena would do just that.
When Florida faced Kentucky on January 6th, they suffered a hard-fought loss on their home court. The Gators led most of the game and controlled the momentum and pace just like they wanted to. A late push from the 'Cats won them their first SEC game and added a boost of momentum to start their own conference slate.
Florida is a high-scoring team just like Kentucky. They average 85.4 points per game which is 11th in the nation, but what helps Florida is their ability to rebound. They average almost 45 rebounds a game which is tabbed at 5th in the nation currently. They also average 16 offensive rebounds per game which is 2nd in the country. In Gainesville, Kentucky was able to keep the rebounding deficit close to where they were within range of the Gators. If the 'Cats can do that this time they should be alright.
The scoring for Florida is pretty balanced. They have five guys who average in double figures, with Walter Clayton Jr. leading the way with almost 16 a night. If Kentucky can simulate anything remotely close to the defense they had in Fayetteville on Saturday, they should successfully limit the Gators offensively.
For Kentucky to win they must rebound aggressively. Odds are they will not win the rebounding battle but if they can keep it within 5-7 I definitely like our chances. And like always, we need to continue our offensive success. We had a bit of a down game offensively versus Arkansas, but I think that was just an anomaly. As long as we play fast and keep shooting, we should fare just fine against Florida. We must get back to the level we've been at for the majority of the season, outside of the last couple of games.
The matchup against Florida takes place at 8:00 PM on ESPN at Rupp Arena, tonight. With a tough stretch coming up this home game is one of the easier ones left on the schedule. If Kentucky wants to be serious contenders they have to win this one, adding to their resume for the tourney.