UK fed off the Rupp Arena energy early and led 7-2. The veteran Gators took the early hit and gained a 10-9 lead. The game turned into a grind — exactly what the Gators do best. It went back-and-forth most of the first half. Julius Randle sparked an 8-0 UK run and the Cats led 31-28 at the half. Florida charged out of the gate after halftime but James Young kept the Cats in it and UK was up 45-38. A 13-3 Gator run and a technical on UK Coach John Calipari turned it around. UK would tie it at 53-53 but it was all Gators down the stretch.
■ The Kentucky bench scored two points.
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■ Free-throw shooting continued to hurt UK. The Cats went 14-for-23.
■ The second half was more than six minutes old before any UK player other than James Young scored.
■ Aaron Harrison did not score until 5:58 remained.
■ Alex Poythress had two rebounds and no points.
■ Florida made 10 of 30 shots in the first half; UK 11-for-22. The Gators made only one three-pointer in nine tries.
■ Give the Rupp Arena crowd credit — it can bring it for the big games.
■ The Gators have the look of a Final Four team.
■ How important are veterans? In the final 5:58, the poised Gators finished this one with a 16-6 run.
■ It seems when one UK player shows up, another does not. Will all the pieces ever come together?