GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Hope to make a good percentage of shots. Hope Kentucky doesn't make a lot of shots. Then ... hope.
That sounded as close to a blueprint for beating No. 1 Kentucky as there is likely to be this season, Southeastern Conference coaches said last week.
The two coaches whose teams had come closest to beating Kentucky — the unrelated Andy Kennedy of Ole Miss and Billy Kennedy of Texas A&M — claimed no surefire formula for such an upset. But each advised future UK opponents take the initiative.
"I'm not sure there is a blueprint," Andy Kennedy said, "other than you've got to battle. You've got to bring the fight to them. You've got to hold your own on the glass.
"Ultimately, you've got to make shots."
Ole Miss got an unstoppable performance by guard Stefan Moody, who scored 25 points. And, of course, still lost, albeit in overtime.
Texas A&M got 25 points from Danuel House, but Billy Kennedy stressed how the Aggies fought fire with fire. A&M used their front-court depth against UK's many big men.
"Keep attacking them inside," he said of his team's plan against Kentucky. "See if we can put on pressure and get paint touches."
A&M outscored Kentucky 38-14 in the paint ... and lost in double-overtime.
"Their interior strength is greater than any other team in the country," Billy Kennedy said of the Cats, "and their depth is greater than any other team in the country."
Ultimately, perhaps the only team that can beat Kentucky is ... Kentucky. At least, UK must help make an upset happen.
"You've got to play your 'A' game," Missouri Coach Kim Anderson said, "and they have to play their 'F' game."
The 2014-15 season has reaffirmed one of Florida Coach Billy Donovan's foundational beliefs.
"This journey for any of us is never an easy one," he said at the start of last week. "Sometimes players just think they can just rely on their talent and go out there and play and it's all going to fall in place. And that's the furthest thing from the truth."
A 12-10 record (5-4 in the SEC) going into the Kentucky game masked the improvement Florida has made, Donovan said. The media, too, can have trouble seeing the progress.
"When a team is covered, basically it's covered on results: did you win or lose," he said. "Little steps along the way, you can see growth or development. . . . Have we made the steps I'd like to see made? No. But I do see growth. I see growth in the team and I see growth in individuals.
"Probably for a lot of people who follow us, that growth may be hard to see."
18-0 vs. 18-0
Pat Dooley, a columnist with The Gainesville Sun, wrote a column before the game on the premise that Kentucky would win.
He compared UK's presumed 18-0 record in the SEC this season with Florida's unprecedented 18-0 regular-season league record last season.
Dooley gave the edge to Florida. Why? "Kentucky doesn't have to play Kentucky," he said.
'Embrace the grind'
It's the dog days of a college basketball season. In late January/early February, most teams have settled on an approach to play. But the payoff that comes with the NCAA Tournament is still more than a month away.
"I just know this league is a grind," Vanderbilt Coach Kevin Stallings said on Monday. "And you have to embrace the grind and you have to figure out how to succeed in the grind."
Vandy snapped a seven-game losing streak (longest for the Commodores since 2003) by beating Florida on Tuesday, then beating South Carolina Saturday.
Recruiting analyst Evan Daniels was on a Lexington-to-Atlanta flight Saturday morning. He said he was on the way to a family gathering in the Atlanta area.
The family was celebrating the 90th birthday of his grandfather, Jim Daniels.
Evan rated Jim a five-star grandfather.