Sidelines with John Clay

Liveblog: Kentucky 65, Florida 54

Kentucky has won seven straight games, but as a program the Wildcats have lost their last two trips to Gainesville to take on the Florida Gators. The Cats will try and snap that streak on Saturday. Tipoff is 4 p.m. on ESPN.

We are courtside at Exactech Arena and will be providing live updates and analysis. Follow us on Twitter at @johnclayiv, @jerrytipton, @alexslitzphoto and @kentuckysports. Scroll down for a dedicated Twitter list.


Officials for Kentucky-Florida are Doug Shows, Todd Austin and Wil Howard.

Starting lineups

Kentucky: Ashton Hagans, Keldon Johnson, Tyler Herro, Reid Travis, PJ Washington

Florida: Andrew Nebhard, KeVaughn Allen, Noah Locke, Keyontae Johnson, Kevarrius Hayes

First half

Florida 12, Kentucky 9 (15:04) - Gators center Kevarrius Hayes has blocked three of Keldon Johnson’s shorts already. And the Gators are two-of-five from three-point range. Mike White’s team shoots an average of 26.5 three-point shots per game.

Florida 17, Kentucky 13 (10:33) - Cats off to a cold, cold shooting start. John Calipari’s club has made just five of 18 shots for 27.8 percent. UK is 1-of-6 from three-point range. Coming off three straight games of 20-or-more points, PJ Washington has missed four of his first five shots.

Florida 17, Kentucky 16 (7:32) - Tyler Herro leads all scorers with 10 points. Florida did not score a point in that segment. Cats are 6-of-20 from the floor. Gators are 7-of-19. Each team is 2-of-7 from three-point range. This has not been a shooting exhibition. Meanwhile, Steve Spurrier is sitting on press row underneath the basket. Wonder what the Ol’ Ball Coach is thinking?

Florida 29, Kentucky 26 (1:37) - Both teams traded leads until the Gators edged out to a three-point advantage. Freshman guard Andrew Nembhard played well that segment. He leads the Gators with 10 points, having made four of his five shots from the floor. Kentucky is just two-of-12 from three-point range. Keldon Johnson is 1-of-6 overall, including two three-point misses.

Halftime: Florida 33, Kentucky 29 - Gators shot 43.3 percent from the field. Cats shot just 35.3. UK made three of 14 three-point attempts. Tyler Herro leads Kentucky with 10 points. Andrew Nembhard leads Florida with 10 points. Here is biggest surprise -- Florida has the advantage in points in the paint 14-12.

My guess is Calipari’s halftime message is along the lines of “Quit shooting threes and get the ball inside to PJ and Reid.” UK has the size advantage inside but did not play to its streak in the first half, taking 14 three-point shots. Too much settling. Florida is a good defensive team, but Cats need to be more focused on getting the ball in the paint.

Halftime box

Second half

Florida 38, Kentucky 31 (17:15) - Locke hits open three from right corner to push the host Gators to a seven-point lead. It also pushes Calipari into calling a timeout. Not the start Kentucky wanted. Before Locke’s three, Hagans committed a careless turnover, losing the ball on a half-drive. UK not sharp this afternoon, though you have to give Florida’s defense credit. Gators have won three straight conference games.

Florida 38, Kentucky 33 (15:35) - UK now shooting 34.2 percent for game. Florida shooting 39.5.

Florida 42, Kentucky 37 (11:44) - Gators led by 11 points at 42-31 before UK scored six straight points. Washington made a free throw, missed the second but EJ Montgomery got the offensive board. That led to Washington scoring on a tip-in. Then Johnson drained a triple from right corner. That led to Mike White asking for a timeout.

Florida 46, Kentucky 43 (7:24) - Cats have twice cut the Gators’ lead to one point, but can’t seize the lead. UK shooting 35.4 percent for the game. Florida at 37.5 percent. Kentucky has made just 4 of 18 three-point shots. UK does have a 36-29 advantage on the boards. PJ Washington has 11 points, 9 rebounds.

Kentucky 50, Florida 48 (4:41) - UK finally gets the lead as Keldon Johnson sinks a three from the right corner. Florida calls time. Gators were up as many as 11 here in the second half.

Kentucky 55, Florida 48 (2:24) - Kentucky on a 12-0 run. Florida just can’t shoot. Plain and simple. Meanwhile, Kentucky has finally heated up. Herro just drained a three-pointer from the left corner. Even Steve Spurrier, seated under Florida basket, can feel it slipping away.

Final: Kentucky 65, Florida 54 - Cats have now won eight straight. Came from 11 points down to beat the Gators.

Final box

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