Tonight, at 9 pm, Kentucky will play Florida for the 129th time. Kentucky has won 94 of the previous 128 meetings between these two teams, most recently last March when an unranked Wildcat squad upset Florida (9th USA Today/11th AP) 61-57.
Here are my Top 5 Kentucky-Florida games:
5) February 8, 2005, Kentucky 69 Florida 66
Florida came into Rupp Arena unranked to take on a Kentucky team ranked 5th in the country in both polls. Having upset #11 Alabama three days prior, the Gators were looking to take down another Top 15 opponent and hand Kentucky their first conference loss. Led by Kelenna Azubuike’s 18 points, Kentucky rallied from a 7-point halftime deficit to win their eighth straight, and 10th out of 11, over Florida. Rondo scored 14 points, while Chuck Hayes and Randolph Morris had 11 points each.
What makes this game memorable is that it was the last victory over Florida until 2008.
4) March 9, 2008, Kentucky 75 Florida 70
Billy Gillispie’s first season was mostly a disaster. There was the loss to Gardner-Webb. The 4-game losing streak shortly thereafter. The 7-9 record after losing to Florida in Gainesville in January. The season ending ankle injury to Patrick Patterson. The tornado hitting the Georgia Dome during the SEC Tournament. But on Senior Day, Florida’s seven-game winning streak against Kentucky came to a halt. Four Wildcats scored in double figures, led by Perry Stevenson’s 18 points. Joe Crawford scored 16 points; Derrick Jasper and Ramel Bradley chipped in 14 points apiece. Stevenson also had 10 rebounds.
3) March 9, 2013, Kentucky 61 Florida 57
A 19-5 run by Florida gave the Gators a 57-50 lead with 7 minutes remaining. But instead of folding, the Wildcats fought back, scoring the final 11 points of the game and temporarily renewed their fading NCAA Tournament hopes. Archie Goodwin scored 16 points. Julius Mays and Ryan Harrow scored 13 points each.
2) March 10, 2012, Kentucky 74 Florida 71
All 5 starters scored in double figures as Kentucky beat Florida in the semi-finals of the SEC Tournament. It was the third time of the 2011-2012 season Kentucky beat the Gators. Billy Donovan cried after the game, complaining about his team only shooting 2 free throws. No one cared.
1) February 4, 2003 Kentucky 70 Florida 55
Florida was ranked #1. Kentucky was ranked #6. Florida got smacked around.
I hate Florida not just because I am a Kentucky fan but because as a Butler alum (and fan) I had to watch Mike Miller make an improbable buzzer beater in overtime to beat the Bulldogs in first round of the 2000 NCAA Tournament. LaVall Jordan, who only days before lost his great aunt—the woman who had raised him—missed two free throws with 8.1 seconds remaining. Jordan was an 83% free throw shooter. In 2011, Butler faced Florida in the Elite 8, an amazing feat considering the Bulldogs needed a last second shot to beat Old Dominion in the first round and then endured the crazy ending against Pittsburgh two days later. Florida DOMINATED much of the game until the Gators started jacking up threes. Butler prevailed in overtime and advanced to their second straight Final Four.