Kentucky has been playing a lot better here of late, and have worked their way back into the AP poll this week at #25. Kentucky now goes down to Gainesville on Tuesday night to take on the Florida Gators who are ranked #7 now after a loss to the Arkansas Razorbacks last week. Florida comes into this game #1 in the SEC with Kentucky only a game back, and a chance to take control if they can beat the Gators tonight.
Florida is now short handed in the frontcourt as Will Yeguete is out for the season with a knee injury. Yeguete was Florida’s best defensive player, and a great athlete to help Patric Young with the rebounding down low. That is a huge loss for Florida, and completely changes their team, but they are still very good and one of the top teams in the nation.
Kentucky needs to go in with the underdog attitude, because that is exactly what they are. Vegas’s opening line had Florida favored by 11, but was quickly bet down to 10 points. The only other game that Kentucky has been the underdog in conference play was against Ole Miss, and the Cats probably played the best they have all season as they beat then #16 ranked Ole Miss by 13.
I expect Florida to play small, and try to get in Ryan Harrow, and Archie Goodwin’s head with full court pressure all the way up the floor. Harrow and Goodwin have to take care of the ball, and can’t turn the ball over in the backcourt that leads to easy layups or dunks for the Gators. If they can do that, and make this game a half court grind it out game I expect Kentucky to be in the game late with a chance to win.
Alex Poythress gets my vote for the key player to watch in this game. Without Yeguete Flordia really has nobody who can guard Poythress, because Erik Murphy is too slow to guard Alex out on the perimeter. Kentucky will need a performance from Poythress like he did against Duke earlier in the season when he was just a BEAST.
Kentucky will have to take the Rowdy Reptiles out of the game, and contain Florida’s guards. Their guards love to shoot the 3, and if they get hot it could be a very long night for the young Wildcats.
I expect a very good game, and if Kentucky can control the tempo, and not let Florida go on huge runs I think they could have a chance to steal a game from the Gators.
Kentucky takes on Florida tonight at 7 on ESPN!!