UK-Florida notes: Gators' Young revels in 'surreal' win at Rupp

jtipton@herald-leader.comFebruary 16, 2014 

Considering the seismic kind of history his team achieved, no surprise that Patric Young found it difficult to believe Florida beat Kentucky 69-59 Saturday night.

"I couldn't believe it," Young said of his emotions as he and the Gators left the Rupp Arena court. "It was surreal. It felt weird. Did we just win here?"

Florida did indeed win, becoming only the third team to win at Kentucky in John Calipari's 84 home games as coach.

It was no fluke, Calipari acknowledged.

"Florida deserved to win the game," he said. "... They were just a little too experienced for us."

Later in his post-game remarks, Calipari added, "We lost to a good team. I'm not happy."

But Calipari did not sound alarmed, either.

Florida's history-making included this nugget: The Gators handed Kentucky only its 14th home loss by a double-digit margin in the history of Rupp Arena, which opened in the 1976-77 season. The Cats had not lost at home by 10 or more points since an 89-75 loss to Louisville on Jan. 5, 2008.

Florida Coach Billy Donovan, who cut his coaching teeth as a UK assistant for Rick Pitino, appreciated the achievement.

"Even if you go back (to pre-Rupp Arena seasons), Kentucky's home record has really been astronomical," he said. "No question this is probably the hardest place in the country to play."

'Stick to guns'

Florida players credited their experience, especially late in possession-by-possession games, for holding steady even though Kentucky led by seven with less than 11 minutes left.

"A game is not going to be over with 11 minutes left," Young said. "No one ever won a game with 11 minutes left. We stuck to our guns."

Technically speaking

Calipari conceded that his technical foul could have swung the momentum decisively in Florida's favor.

"Could have," he said before repeating, "Could have."

UK led 48-47 when Calipari received the technical foul. Scottie Wilbekin made both technical free throws, then Casey Prather drove to a basket that put the Gators ahead 51-48.

When asked why he got the technical, Calipari said, "You'll have to ask him (referee Michael Stephens). I just told the guy — I was speaking softly. I don't know what he heard. I had my back to him."

Flak

Patric Young was prescient at October's SEC Media Days when he reminded reporters that UK's heralded freshmen had a lot to learn. That logic didn't spare him the wrath of Cat fans.

When asked if he received criticism, Young said, "Of course. It was all from Kentucky fans. Calling me names. Or saying you never won at Rupp. This and that."

Young was philosophical about the reaction.

"Of course, (being) Kentucky fans, you're going to be biased. I'd expect Florida fans to do the same thing for us."

Whiteout?

A white cloth was draped over all lower level seats as the fans entered Rupp Arena.

The towels were a promotion for the upcoming launch of the SEC Network. But they were also rally towels, so UK sort of staged a whiteout, which opponents typically do when the Cats come to town.

There were no rally towels/whiteout in upper arena. The upper arena was considered irrelevant to the effort to create a compelling visual for television.

Boring SEC?

ESPN analyst Jay Bilas on how the SEC can improve its basketball profile. "Faster tempo," he said. "The games are boring. Attendance is poor."

Castmate Digger Phelps cited "the influence of football" as a drag on basketball.

The SEC is the seventh-best league according to the Ratings Percentage Index, and sixth best according to stat maven Ken Pomeroy.

Weather retort

Patric Young did a phone interview Friday before his team departed for Lexington.

When told to pack snow shoes and a winter coat, Young said, "Don't tell me that."

Young, who grew up in Jacksonville, couldn't resist adding, "Beautiful in Gainesville today."

Etc.

As ESPN GameDay noted, Florida could tie UK for the best SEC road record in the past five seasons. Winning in Rupp improved the Gators' SEC road record in that time to 24-15. That matches UK's in that time. ... Florida won at Tennessee and Kentucky only twice ... ever: 1985 and 1988.

Jerry Tipton: (859) 231-3227. Twitter: @JerryTipton. Blog: ukbasketball.bloginky.com.

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