GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- No. 7 Florida (19-3, 9-1 SEC) will host No. 25 Kentucky (17-6, 8-2 SEC) at 7 p.m. on Tuesday night in a nationally televised tilt on ESPN2. GatorBait.net is here to break down the nuts and bolts of the matchup, which will have a huge impact on the SEC standings.
No. 25 Kentucky comes into the O'Dome on Tuesday night to face No. 7 Florida riding a five-game winning streak.
At a Glance
Time: 7 p.m. ET
TV: ESPN / WatchESPN
Broadcast team: Brad Nessler, Dick Vitale, Shannon Spake
Radio: Gator IMG Sports Network / Serius 91
Line: Florida -10 (sportsbook.com)
Florida's Last 5:
W 82-57 - Mississippi State
L 80-69 - at Arkansas
W 78-64 - Ole Miss
W 75-36 - South Carolina
W 82-47 - at Mississippi State
Overview: Florida had cruised, putting together a 10-game winning streak before falling on the road at Arkansas. In the process, the Gators lost forward Will Yeguete (knee surgery), making this a different team than the one that ripped through the first half of its league schedule.
Kentucky's Last 5:
W 72-62 - Auburn
W 77-55 - South Carolina
W 72-68 OT - at Texas A&M
W 87-74 - at Ole Miss
W 75-70 - LSU
Overview: The Wildcats have played progressively better as the season has worn on, getting big man Willie Cauley-Stein back three games ago. As he has gotten back into the lineup, Kentucky has been better. Still, the Wildcats have played up and down to their competition, narrowly escaping with an overtime win at Texas A&M a week and a half ago.
Scottie Wilbekin vs. Ryan Harrow: Kentucky has the athletes and the depth in the frontcourt to really get a shallow Florida team in trouble if they're allowed to go to work. Harrow is the key to disrupting Kentucky's offense.
In the Wildcats' wins, he is averaging 3.1 assists per game. That number dips to 1.5 per game in Kentucky's six losses. Harrow can get flustered when faced with good defenders, and Florida can make up for its lack of depth in the frontcourt by keeping Kentucky off-balance on the offensive end by harassing Harrow.
Wilbekin has been excellent in Florida's wins, and he'll need to be productive on both ends of the floor against Kentucky to help the Gators get clean looks against a lengthy team.
What They're Saying
Kenny Boynton on Nerlens Noel: "On offense we have to play smart knowing Nerlens Noel is a great shot-blocker ... You've just got to be smart going to the hole. Trying to shoot over him is a bad idea, I would say. We've got to drive to kick, try to get him to commit to us and get [Patric Young] or [Erik Murphy] some easy layups."
Billy Donovan on Noel: "I think he's just as good as Anthony Davis as shot-blocker. He's got unbelievable length, he's got unbelievable timing. He's very skilled at it. He keeps himself out of foul trouble. He can alter shots in a lot of different directions and areas of the floor."
Boynton on the defensive gameplan: "We've gotta pressure, but not smart pressure, not try to pressure all the way out. We've got to guard them on the 3-point line instead of picking them up at half court and them driving and getting Pat Young or Erik Murphy fouls. We've just got to try our best to keep them out of the lane because they do a great job at driving and throwing the ally to Noel."
Archie Goodwin on the guard play: "I l feel like we'll take it just like any other game. If we just stay aggressive and be patient with everything that we're doing, there shouldn't be a reason why we shouldn't win."
Donovan on Kentucky's success: "Clearly the last three or four years just incredible talent and incredible pieces and they’ve been very, very gifted and they’ve been a very, very hard team to beat. I think John has done a terrific job with his team."
John Calipari on Florida: "Last year they were an Elite Eight team that should’ve been in the Final Four, one game short of that, and they’ve got everybody back. And college basketball isn’t what it was a year ago, so that’s how good a challenge, how big a challenge and how good a team they are."
Goodwin on Florida's margin-of-victory: "I couldn’t care less about who they beat by 30 and 20 points, because we're not the team that they beat by 30 and 20. We're another different team and if we let something like that intimidate us, then we won't be that confident in ourselves and be able to do the things we do."
Scottie Wilbekin on losing five straight to Kentucky: "Obviously they beat us three times last year and that’s really embarrassing, to lose to a team three times in one year. We want to come this year with a focus, effort and ready to play our best basketball."
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