When the ladder was brought out at the Georgia Dome, Florida Sr. Chandler Parsons wasn’t climbing it with scissors in hand; it was Kentucky Fr. Doron Lamb.
The No. 16 Kentucky Wildcats (25-8) defeated the No. 12 Florida Gators (25-7) 70-54 in the SEC Tournament Final Sunday. It is Kentucky’s second straight (27th overall) Tournament Championship and second win over Florida since February 1.
The Wildcats came out hitting 6-for-7 from the field and 3-for-3 from beyond the arch to take an early 14-5 lead. Freshman G Scottie Wilbekin had two strong defensive plays in an 11-3 Florida run that included eight straight points to bring the Gators within one.
Florida went ahead for their first lead of the game (20-19) on a Parsons tip shot. A little over a minute later, Fr. Patric Young’s jumper gave the Gators their biggest lead of the game at 24-21. Kentucky responded with a 9-0 run, held Florida scoreless for over seven minutes, and led 34-29 going into halftime.
Kentucky continued their dismantling of Florida after the break, coming out with an 8-0 run to extend the lead 41-29. Florida C. Vernon Macklin and Kentucky F Terrence Jones traded back-to-back layups, bringing the score to 45-33, before both teams went scoreless for the next five minutes.
The Gators eventually found some momentum, hitting five consecutive baskets and coming within eight points, but the Wildcats never wavered in intensity, and easily continued to dominate the Gators until the final buzzer.
Florida had their second lowest shooting percentage of the season at 39% (22-57), hit 7-of-21 3FG, was 3-of-8 at the free throw line, and committed 14 turnovers. Four out of five Kentucky starters scored in double digits to Florida’s one, G Kenny Boynton, who finished the game with 10 Pts.
Fortunately for the Orange and Blue, they have bounced back from losses well all season, never losing two in a row. They’re going to need that streak to continue in the NCAA Tournament when they face UC-Santa Barbara in Tampa Thursday at 6:50 pm EST.