Florida-UK notes: Kidd-Gilchrist comes up big in biggest games

jtipton@herald-leader.comFebruary 7, 2012 

  • Kentucky vs. Western Kentucky

    When: 7 p.m. Saturday
    Where: LP Field in Nashville
    TV: ESPNews
    Radio: WBUL-FM 98.1; WLAP-AM 630; WWRW-FM 105.5

Thirteen was a lucky number for Kentucky on Tuesday night. Freshman Michael Kidd-Gilchrist scored 13 points and grabbed 13 rebounds as Kentucky beat Florida.

That continued a trend in which Kidd-Gilchrist rises to the big-game occasion.

In UK's four games against ranked opponents (Kansas, North Carolina, Louisville and Florida), Kidd-Gilchrist has averaged 16.8 points and 13 rebounds. He had double-doubles in three of the four games, missing one against Kansas by one rebound.

"He just has a fierceness to him," UK Coach John Calipari said in explaining Kidd-Gilchrist's big-game productivity.

Of course, Kidd-Gilchrist contributed defensively, too. Calipari assigned him to fellow freshman Bradley Beal, arguably Florida's best all-around player. Beal scored 14 points but made only five of 15 shots. His six rebounds were tolerable.

When asked about Kidd-Gilchrist's knack for gobbling up space en route to a fast-break score, Calipari said the freshman seemed to need only two strides to get from the three-point line to the basket.

Yet, the UK coach again mentioned how Kidd- Gilchrist can get better: by enjoying his work.

"He reminds me of Derrick Rose," Calipari said in reference to his freshman star at Memphis in 2007-08, "in that he's tougher on himself than I am on him."

10 assists

Freshman point guard Marquis Teague posted a career-high 10 assists.

Teague said he no longer is concerned with scoring.

"I always ask for my assists," he said. "(And) see if I have at least three or four rebounds."

Teague acknowledged a firmer grasp of point guard play on the college level. In the last five games, he has had 28 assists and 10 turnovers.

"I feel I'm getting better every game," he said. "I will try to build on this."

Syracuse? Ohio State?

With Florida having played Ohio State and Syracuse earlier in the season, comparisons with Kentucky were inevitable.

"Ohio State is very versatile," Beal said. "Similar to this Kentucky team."

Florida Coach Billy Donovan said Ohio State did not have as much length as Kentucky.

"Syracuse has every bit as much length, and they have more depth," Donovan said.

While noting the one-and-done nature of the NCAA Tournament, Donovan said of the Cats, "If they went all the way, it would not be surprising."

New normal?

A reporter asked Doron Lamb if a 20-point blowout victory was the "new normal" for Kentucky. The Cats have won four straight games by 20 or more points.

"I hope so," Lamb said with a slight smile. "We're playing with a lot of energy."

Vitale sick

Vitale said before the game that he was ill.

"I feel terrible," he said with a noticeably scratchy voice.

But the show must go on.

Vitale is scheduled for the North Carolina-Duke game Wednesday night. It will be his 40th UNC-Duke game.

He also plugged an "All-Access Dickie V" feature that will air on ESPNU's 6 p.m. sportscast on Wednesday.

Pearl vision

Former Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl sat in the front row opposite the Florida bench.

Pearl said he was in Bowling Green on business. It marked the first SEC game he's seen this season.

Davis blocks

Anthony Davis blocked four shots, raising his season's total to 120. That's good for ninth place on the SEC's single-season list.

No. 8 is Robert Horry, who blocked 121 in 1991-92.

Walker struggles

Kentucky continued to be poison for Florida guard Erving Walker. He missed all seven of his shots (four from three-point range).

That lowered his career totals against UK to 19-for-78 from the field (13-for-45 from three-point range).

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