Kentucky-Florida notes: Cats hope to find 'mojo' in SEC tourney

jtipton@herald-leader.comMarch 8, 2014 

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — John Calipari is looking forward to this week's Southeastern Conference Tournament. In that sense, this will be an exceptional season for Kentucky.

Unabashedly not a fan of conference tournaments, Calipari spoke of the good that the SEC Tournament can do for Kentucky this year.

"We've got to get the mojo going a little bit," he said after Florida won 84-65 Saturday. "We've got to do it there."

Kentucky lost three of its final four games of the regular season.

"We still believe," Julius Randle said. "But there's a point where we have to put it to action. I still think we will."

Teammate Dakari Johnson, who scored nine points and grabbed five rebounds, acknowledged there are doubters.

"I know a lot of people don't believe we can do it, right now," he said. "It's on us. We just got to believe. That's all that matters."

Randle cited the second half, in which Kentucky outscored Florida 37-35, as a reason to believe.

"Shows how good we can really be at both ends of the floor," he said. "... We know we can do it. We just have to do it all the time. We can't do it when our backs are to the wall."

Florida Coach Billy Donovan said Kentucky was "as talented as anyone in the country.

"To me, they have all the pieces."

Donovan noted Randle's post presence, Willie Cauley-Stein's shot blocking and called James Young "an incredible shooter."

Donovan suggested that freshmen simply need time.

"It's always a process you go through," the Florida coach said.

Two shots/no shot

Calipari lamented UK's shot selection after reducing a 21-point deficit to 53-47.

"Two of the worst shots all season we've taken," he said of UK's next two shots. "Like you've got to be kidding me. But that's what freshmen do."

Actually, a sophomore, Alex Poythress, took the Cats' next shot: an attempt as he broke left to right across the lane.

Not just Wilbekin

Although Scottie Wilbekin made big shots in the second half, Randle cautioned against giving the Florida guard too much credit.

"A lot of guys contributed and played well," he said of the Gators. "Patric Young played great. A lot of pieces they have that played great. It's a great team."

Moving up

Donovan notched his 16th coaching victory against Kentucky. That enabled him to break a tie with Bob Knight and Ray Mears for the second-most victories over UK.

Former LSU coach Dale Brown leads with 18 victories.

Margin of victory

Florida's average margin of victory in going 18-0 in the SEC schedule was 13.1 points.

The last four unbeaten SEC champions had average margins of victories of 16.4 (UK in 2011-12), 15.9 (UK in 2002-03), 24.2 (UK in 1995-96) and 18.6 (Alabama in 1955-56).

Wooden ballot

Randle and Florida's Casey Prather are the only SEC players on the final list for the Wooden Award.

Others are Kyle Anderson (UCLA), Cleanthony Early (Wichita State), Tyler Ennis (Syracuse), C.J. Fair (Syracuse), Gary Harris (Michigan State), Nick Johnson (Arizona), Sean Kilpatrick (Cincinnati), Doug McDermott (Creighton), Shabazz Napier (Connecticut), Jabari Parker (Duke), Russ Smith (Louisville), Nik Stauskas (Michigan) and Andrew Wiggins (Kansas).

No 'k'

Patric Young entered the game as one of the most accomplished players in Florida basketball history: 1,198 points, 146 blocks, 134 dunks, 3,398 minutes, etc.).

One thing is missing; the "k" in his first name.

His father, Bob Young, explained. An older sister is Sara, with no "h." It's a Biblical name: Abraham's wife.

For consistency, the family left the "k" off Patric, the elder Young said.

Love triumphant

As Florida's dance team, the Dazzlers, warmed up before the game, a young man holding a sign approached one of the co-eds. The sign read: Will you marry me?

The Dazzler, Amanda Rochford, said yes. Congratulatory handshakes ensued.

A.J. Deaton, who graduated from Florida last summer with a degree in computer software engineering, said he would have preferred a more intimate setting to propose. But Amanda loves being a Dazzler and it was her Senior Day.

Etc.

For the eighth time in the last nine games, Kentucky had more turnovers than assists. UK had 10 assists and 14 turnovers at Florida.

So far this season, Kentucky has had at least as many turnovers as assists in 20 of its 31 games.

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

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