Mark Story

Instant analysis: Who’s up, who’s down after Kentucky’s 66-57 win over Florida

Photo slideshow: No. 6 Kentucky defeats Florida 66-57

The No. 6 Kentucky men's basketball team defeated Florida 66-57 on Senior Day on Saturday in Rupp Arena in Lexington.
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The No. 6 Kentucky men's basketball team defeated Florida 66-57 on Senior Day on Saturday in Rupp Arena in Lexington.

Instant analysis from No. 6 Kentucky’s 66-57 win over Florida on Saturday:

How the game was won

Kentucky used a 15-2 run in the second half to turn a 40-39 deficit into a 54-42 lead and locked up the No. 2 seed in next week’s SEC Tournament behind strong second halves from Tyler Herro (12 points after halftime) and PJ Washington (11 second-half points).

Game balls

1. Kentucky balance. The Wildcats had four players — Tyler Herro (16 points), PJ Washington (15), Keldon Johnson (14) and Ashton Hagans (14) — account for 59 points.

2. PJ Washington’s second half. As he did in UK’s Tuesday night win at Mississippi, the sophomore power forward put the Cats on his shoulders in half two and carried them.

3. UK rebounding. The Wildcats crushed the Gators (39-23) on the boards.

Reasons for worry

1. Slow Kentucky starts. The Cats trailed 31-30 at halftime, continuing a recent trend. UK has been behind at the half in its past four games.

2. UK zone offense. One reason Kentucky was sluggish early was lack of ball movement against a 2-3 Florida zone.

3. Kentucky depth of production. Other than UK’s four double-figure scorers, the rest of the Kentucky roster contributed only seven points.

Key number(s)

Forty and three. In the Rupp Arena era (which began in 1976-77), Kentucky is now 40-3 in Senior Day (final home game of regular season) contests.

The Cat-mosphere

1. Kentucky seniors Reid Travis and Jonny David broke through the traditional Senior Day paper hoops and Michael Preacely sang “My Old Kentucky Home” as UK honored its two seniors before the final Rupp Arena game of 2018-19.

2. The Rupp Arena crowd roared when public address announcer Patrick Whitmer announced the final score “Auburn 84, Tennessee 80.”

3. A Florida fan in an orange T-shirt was shown on Rupp Arena’s giant video boards — and started “Gator chomping.” She may have gotten the loudest boo in Rupp in 2018-19.

4. Former Kentucky star Tayshaun Prince was the “Y.”

5. Ex-UK football star Josh Allen was shown on the Rupp Arena video boards to an enthusiastic roar from the crowd.

6. The Senior Day attendance was 24,456. With Rupp Arena renovations reducing capacity next season to some 20,500, this will presumably be the final Rupp crowd in excess of 24,000

Up next

Kentucky (26-5, 15-3 SEC) will compete in the SEC Tournament at Bridgestone Arena in downtown Nashville next week (March 13-17).

With Tennessee’s 84-80 loss to Auburn on Saturday, UK is locked into the No. 2 seed and will play its initial game in the quarterfinals Friday at 7 p.m. (EDT).

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Mark Story has worked in the Lexington Herald-Leader sports department since Aug. 27, 1990, and has been a H-L sports columnist since 2001. I have covered every Kentucky-Louisville football game since 1994, every UK-U of L basketball game but three since 1996-97 and every Kentucky Derby since 1994.


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