Date story was published: Wednesday, January 18, 1984
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Center Eugene McDowell scored 16 points and forward Ronnie Williams added 15 as unranked Florida upset No. 3 Kentucky 69-57 last night in Southeastern Conference basketball.
The Gators used solid inside play from McDowell and Williams, plus a stubborn zone defense to limit Kentucky to a 45 percent field-goal shooting as they beat the Wildcats for the first time in five years.
Forward Vernon Delancy had 14 points and freshman guard Andrew Moten had 13 points for the Gators, who improved their season record to
76 overall and 3-2 in the SEC.
Kentucky, led by Jim Master's 18 points and Kenny Walker's 15, fell to 122 and 4-2 in the SEC, having lost to conference rival Auburn 82-63 last Friday.
Florida took a 10-8 lead after just over five minutes of play when McDowell hit one under the basket and the Gators never trailed.
The Gators, who last beat Kentucky 76-56 on Jan. 3, 1979, pulled ahead steadily in the first half and at the break led 34-18.
They led by 18, 38-22, early in the second half until Master and Sam Bowie, who finished with only four points, started hitting and Kentucky came within 11 with about seven minutes to play.
Florida had not beaten Kentucky since 1979.
If the other teams in the SEC liked Kentucky's loss at Auburn last week, they loved the Wildcats' woeful performance in the first half last night.
In the first 20 minutes last night, UK gave every indication its lost weekend road trip would produce nothing but two defeats.
Although a heavy underdog, Florida grabbed the lead early and widened the margin to as much as 16 (34-18) by halftime.
And, it could have been worse.
Florida missed a potential five free throws down the stretch.
The same problems that plagued UK at Auburn were present in the first half last night. Florida, like Auburn, backed a 3-2 zone into the lane and invited outside shooting. And UK couldn't hit the jumper. The Wildcats made only nine of 23 shots in the half (39 percent). Master continued to be mired in a shooting slump. The usually hot-shooting guard hit only two of six shots in the half.
Turnovers also contributed to UK's 16-point deficit. Growing jittery as the half continued, UK committed eight turnovers in the half.
The turnovers and poor shooting combined to produce a six-minute scoring drought for UK. The Cats went from 15:40 to 9:33 without a basket. In that time, when UK missed three shots and committed four turnovers, Florida scored eight straight points to open up a 16-8 lead.
McDowell led the way for Florida, scoring 12 points in the first half. UK played man-to-man throughout the first half, and McDowell scored 12 of his points in head-to-head confrontations with UK center Melvin Turpin.
Moten, who was named the player of the game for his 25-point performance against Vanderbilt here on Sunday, scored six points in the half.
Two of the freshman's baskets came on fast breaks as the Gators roared by the stunned Wildcats.
Hall grew so frustrated that he yanked his entire starting lineup with 4:24 remaining in the half. UK trailed by 12 (26-14) when the UK coach went with a lineup of Troy McKinley, Bret Bearup, Paul Andrews, Tom Heitz and James Blackmon for the rest of the half.
That lineup came on after the starters had managed just two baskets -- a post-up by Kenny Walker and a 20footer from Master -- in almost 10 minutes.
But, Florida outscored the subs 8-4 in the concluding four minutes to take its 34-18 halftime lead.
Only missed free throws -- Moten missed the free throw on two possible three-point plays and McDowell missed another -- kept UK as close as it was.