Date story was published: Thursday, February 21, 1985
GAINESVILLE, Fla. - Kenny Walker may have lost his scoring and rebounding lead in the Southeastern Conference, but Kentucky held on to first place last night.
Even though Walker was held to 17 points, all in the second half, Kentucky still beat Florida 76-68.
The victory, which raised UK's overall record to 15-9, improved the Cats to 10-5 in the SEC.
Florida fell to 16-8 and 8-7.
Although Walker began getting free for shots in the second half, it was the other Wildcats who produced a 9-0 spurt that pushed Kentucky ahead 51-43 with 10 minutes remaining.
Freshman guard Ed Davender began the spurt, swiping a Eugene McDowell pass from the low post and driving for a three-point play. Davender's steal and drive gave UK the lead for good at 45-43 with 12:40 remaining.
The UK edge grew to 47-43 when Davender's shot hung on the rim, Florida's players mistimed their jumps and Troy McKinley grabbed a flatfooted rebound and put it in.
UK's next possession was a four-point trip down the floor. As McKinley hit a 20-footer, Walker was falling to the floor as a result of a Joe Lawrence shove.
Kentucky got the ball back and Winston Bennett sank a short turnaround shot to complete the 9-0 run. The Cats led 51-43 with 10:17 to go.
Florida immediately closed to within five (51-46) when guard Andrew Moten answered with a three-point play in the lane. But by making free throws and keeping Walker involved, UK never let Florida get any closer.
Walker did not score in the first 20 minutes and Kentucky led at halftime.
The defense Florida played wasn't very different from what the Wildcats have seen much of the season. The Gators were in a 2-3 zone for all but the final four minutes of the half.
In the zone, three Florida players immediately surrounded Walker whenever he touched the ball on the low post.
Walker, the SEC's leading scorer (23.1 ppg), got off only one shot in the half. It was the game's first shot, a 15-footer from the right side that bounced off the front of the rim.
UK fell behind 9-2 in the first five minutes, but regrouped with accurate outside shooting.
The Wildcats had only one basket in the first four minutes. Thereafter, the shots began to fall. UK finished the half having made 57.1 percent of its shots (16 of 28).
Bret Bearup, shooting 41.7 percent for the season, made four of six from the field.
In one two-minute span, Bearup made four straight shots. The fourth shot in the sequence he banked in from 10 feet, one of four bankers the Cats had in the half.
The last two of Bearup's shots started Kentucky on a 10-0 scoring run that erased a 15-10 Florida lead and put the Cats ahead 20-15.
Davender's jumper in the lane on a fast break gave UK a 16-15 lead with 11:07 remaining in the half.
Bennett, a 41.8 percent shooter, was another Wildcat who found the range. Bennett hit three shots. One of Bennett's baskets was a one-hand slam off a fast-break pass from Davender.
Although other Wildcats picked up the slack, Walker was on Coach Joe Hall's mind.
When a television timeout was called at the 12:02 mark, the Kentucky coach had a brief conversation with referee Paul Galvin.
The exchange followed a foul called against Roger Harden for reaching in.
''What did he do?" Hall yelled at Galvin.
The referee shot his forearm out and up, indicating a shove.
"What are they doing to Walker?" the UK coach yelled back.
Florida's attack was hurt by McDowell's butterfingers. McDowell fumbled away three feeds inside.
The Gators also didn't shoot well against Kentucky's shifting defenses. The Cats played some man-to-man (with Davender on Andrew Moten), some "point- drop" zone and even a box-and-one (Davender on Moten).
Florida made just 41.4 percent of its shots (12 of 29).
Meanwhile, UK hit some improbable shots.
An example was the last shot of the half.
UK had the ball and Davender was fouled with one second remaining. Because it was only Florida's sixth personal foul, there were no free throws to shoot.
With only one second on the clock, Davender threw the ball to Harden who fired from the right corner.