When the Wildcats and Gators face off it’s a staredown of intimidation. Such is the case for Saturday when Kentucky basketball squares off with longtime Southeastern Conference nemesis Florida at 4 pm in Rupp Arena.
With the regular season winding down with just seven regular-season games left then every game is important as the focus begins to shift toward the postseason. Kentucky and Florida meet Saturday and in the regular-season finale in Gainsville on March 5.
Kentucky is 20-4 this season and rolling at home with an impressive 14-0 record. The Gators are 16-8 this year but just 2-4 on the road.
Big Blue Nation watched our Cats extend their winning streak to five games with an 86-76 victory at South Carolina on Tuesday. It was another gritty grind-it-out kind of game, but the kind that prepare you March.
The Gators won the final game last season snapping a five-game winning streak by Kentucky.
Kentucky coach John Calipari is trying to get the most out of every practice and game that he can with his site set on an NCAA Tournament to the championship in April. He wants his squad to be fresh for the postseason.
“Here’s the challenge that I have – we’ve got 23 days left in the regular season. We’ve got seven games and seven practices the day before the game. What can you do the day before a game? You going to go four hours? So that’s 14 days, you have three days off, that’s 17 days out of the 23. So. you have five or six real practices. Can we tune things up and go? And can you do it without scrimmaging? That’s the challenge I have.”
Calipari’s Wildcats sit one game back in the SEC standings behind Auburn, but the Tigers have the tiebreaker due to their win over Kentucky.
Big Blue has four players averaging double-figure scoring. Oscar Tshiebwe (15.9 points and 15.1 rebounds), TyTy Washington (12.9 points), Kellan Grady (12 points and team-leading 69 3-pointers made), and a surging Keion Brooks (11.6 points and 4.7 rebounds). Sahvir Wheeler fell out of double figures (9.7) due to 3 straight games without making a field goal. Wheeler and Washington each have a team-high 29 steals on the year.
Florida has been on a four-game winning streak but had to rely on 3-point shooting while their best player Colin Castleton was sidelined for six games with a shoulder injury. But with the big 6-foot-11 240-pound big man back Mike White’s offense again is flowing through Castleton. He averages 15.4 points and 8.9 rebounds a game.
The Gators took a bite out of George 72-63 on Wednesday night, behind a career-high seven 3-pointers from Myreon Jones.
Kentucky basketball vs Florida Odds and Betting
WynnBet’s College Basketball Odds has Kentucky as a 10 point favorite. The over/under has been set at 140 points and the Moneyline has Kentucky at -575 and Florida + 425. The point totals are Kentucky scoring 75.5 points and Florida with 65.5 points.
Kentucky averages 81.4 points a game while Florida puts up 71.1 points. UK shoots 49 percent from the field while allowing 40 percent. The Gators make 42 percent of their shots while opponents knock down 43 percent.
Kentucky vs Florida Prediction Today
Kentucky leads the overall series 105-41
Dan Issel holds the record for most points scored on Flordia dropping 37 points in both games during the 1970 season. He had the most rebounds against the Gators with 24 in the 1967 game. Tyler Ulis handed out 11 assists in each of the 2016 matchups. Dickey Beal also did the same in 1984.
I think those records are safe today but Oscar Tshiebwe will be challenged by Castleton in the paint area and we don’t know which Sahvir Wheeler will show up for today’s game. Assists are not the issue, it’s the lack of points and turnover that have plagued him over the past three games.
Kentucky just needs to keep on doing what has carried them to this point while fine-tuning the little things the Calipari wants.
Another tough game against their long-time SEC rival only means another strong plus on their tournament resume and Calipari knows that.
“We have the third-best schedule in the country right now. That’s part of this and how we do it. Everything we do it geared toward March. We want to play hard games, we want to play teams that play different. “
A healthy Kentucky team that plays its game should not have to go down to the wire against the Gators today.
My prediction is Kentucky 77, Florida 66
What Channel is the Kentucky Basketball Game On
Today’s game will be on ESPN with tipoff set for 4 pm EST.
Kentucky versus Florida Live Stream
Today’s Kentucky game can be streamed live on ESPN.
Kentucky over the airwaves:
For the radio enthusiasts, our stellar team of Tom Leach (play-by-play), Mike Pratt, and Dick Gabriel (sideline) will have the call on the UK Sports Network. They can be heard at 840 AM around Louisville and in the Lexington area at both 630 AM and 98.1 FM. If you are outside these areas check your local statins or you can always listen online at www.UKAthletics.com
Kentucky’s Next Game and Upcoming Schedule
Kentucky continues the back end of its SEC journey with just 6 more regular-season games after Florida. There are three at home and three on the road. Here’s a look at their schedule for the remaining games.
February 15 @Tennessee 9 PM ESPN
February 19 Alabama 1 PM CBS
February 23 LSU 9 PM ESPN
February 26 @Arkansas 2 PM
March 1 Ole Miss 7 PM
March 5 @Florida 2 PM