Florida guard Nick Calathes, who scored a career-high 33 points at Kentucky last month, got benched for the last 2:40 of the Gators' loss at Mississippi State on Wednesday.
"Nick has got an incredible drive and he's got an incredible work ethic," Florida Coach Billy Donovan said. "But I just think at the end of games he's got to understand how to incorporate other people. ...
"Sometimes when you're perceived as being the best player on the team you feel this enormous responsibility: I've got to go do it. And he's not that type of player that he can just athletically go do it. I just felt (at Mississippi State) it was better for him and our team for him to sit and watch and see what's going on."
Earlier this season, Donovan noted how Calathes was still learning the nuances of point guard play: when to pass to the hot hand, when to get the big guys a touch.
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That process continues for a player in his first full season as a point guard.
"It's a fine line, because his assists are so high, and with the way we play and his skill level, he's going to get, six, seven assists," Donovan said. "He's always going to get six, seven rebounds. He's going to get 15, 18 (points)."
Calathes is the only player in the nation averaging more than 15 points, five rebounds and six assists.
But, the Florida coach added, Calathes must be mindful of producing in the team concept. "Let's make sure we get guys moved around and do what we need to do," Donovan said.
Since setting a Bud Walton Arena record with 45 points at Arkansas, UK guard Jodie Meeks has cooled off a bit. In the five games since, he's made only 38.1 percent of his shots (32 of 84) and 27.5 percent of his three-point attempts (11 of 40). He's averaged a still-healthy 21 points (which would rank second in league play) in that span.
"I see opponents focusing a lot of attention on him," UK Coach Billy Gillispie said before adding, "I think he's pressing a little the last couple games. Probably trying too hard because he wants to win so badly."
In the first meeting, Florida limited Meeks to 7-for-19 shooting and 23 points. But he took over down the stretch and hit the game-winning shot in a 68-65 victory.
"I think you consider anything against him," Florida Coach Billy Donovan said of the defensive options. "Actually, I thought we did a pretty good job in Lexington against him except for the last three minutes where he really made a couple tough threes, got to the free-throw line, scored 10 points there. Leading up to that point I thought we were pretty aware of where he was at and did a good job of getting to him."
Donovan noted Meeks' speed. "He's got a great ability to go from 0 to 60," the Florida coach said. "Defensively and offensively, he's as good as I've seen where he's at a standstill and there's a screen coming for him and he can just full speed run off and catch it and shoot.
"Same thing in the passing lanes. He can kind of be standing there and all of sudden just explode and accelerate and get steals. He's a heck of a player and probably a guy that's without question a Player of the Year candidate."
"I think good things are going to happen for us," the UK coach said. "We've had a tough stretch now. But I think it's going to end. I think we'll get better and I think we'll like the result. And I look forward (to it)."
Need a win?
When asked if Kentucky needed a win for its psyche, Gillispie said, "Yeah, last Wednesday. And last Saturday, and the Tuesday before that. You can't worry about the last one, though. You always need your next one. The next one is always your most important one."
The game pits the SEC's best offense (Florida ranks first in points and three-point accuracy) against the best defense (UK ranks first in points allowed and field-goal defense). ... Walter Hodge, who was ejected from the first game because he stepped on Perry Stevenson, reached 1,000 points in his career by scoring 20 at Mississippi State. ... Ian Eagle and Greg Anthony will call the game for CBS.