Getting Ready for Kentucky, Part Two

The Gators will go for six straight wins over the Kentucky Wildcats tomorrow, while also trying to break out of a skid that has seen the former number one team in the country lose three of four games.

Not a whole lot has changed between these two teams in regards to stats and averages, seeing that the last meeting between them came less than a month ago.  There is a drastic difference between the state of the Florida Gators though, as on February 10th they traveled to Lexington ranked number one and were in the midst of a 15-game winning streak.

With all that being said, here are some of the statistical categories for the two teams:

Points Per Game
UF: 79.4 / Opp: 61.6 / Margin: 17.8
UK: 73.1 / Opp: 66.2 / Margin: 6.9

Field Goal Percentage
UF: .525 / Opp: .410
UK: .484 / Opp: .399

3-Pt Field Goal Percentage
UF: .406 (7.1 per game) / Opp: .299
UK: .359 (6.7 per game) / Opp: .320

Rebounding Margin
UF: +7.8
UK: +3.5

Assist/Turnover Ratio
UF: 1.15
UK: 1.07

Offensive Efficiency (Explanation)
UF: 117.4 (1st)
UK: 107.3 (80th)

Defensive Efficiency
UF: 91.2 (10th)
UK: 97.0 (69th)
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Gators Offense/Wildcats Defense
In the first meeting between these two teams, the Wildcats held the Gators to their second lowest point total of the season at 64, and their second worst offensive efficiency game total at 94.8.

The reason for this?  Well, some would say that it was due to the foul trouble of Joakim Noah and Al Horford that caused a very out-of-rythm offensive performance -- which I believe is somewhat true -- but it also could have been due to the Gators shooting 29% from beyond the arc and getting outrebounded by the Cats.  The Gators were only able to pull down five offensive rebounds in that game, a stat that helps you immensely in big games.

Florida's offense has not been terrible as of late, or at least as terrible as the defense has, but still deserves some of the blame for the recent slide.  The reasons in which Florida's offense has lost its luster would be because of poor guard play and sloppy, turnover riddled basketball.

Taurean Green, the Gators PG who at times has looked like the team's most valuable player, has struggled immensely over the last several games.  Since his 20 point outburst in the second half of the Alabama game, has only averaged seven points and two assists over the last four games. This is a serious problem for the Gators, who depend on Green to create offense off of quick drives to the basket and around the perimeter.

And it's not only Green that is struggling.  Lee Humphrey, who ignited the Gators offense for a majority of this season, has not been pitching in his fair share of points and assists either.  He has scored 7.75 points and added 0.5 assists per game in the four game slide.  He faired pretty well in the last game against the Vols, going 3-7 from the three-point line, but still is not matching his early to mid-season form.

The Gators have averaged over 18 turnovers per game in their three losses over the last two weeks.  They will need to protect the ball against a Kentucky team that has been traditionally very pesky under head coach Tubby Smith.  Taurean Green and Corey Brewer were forcing things against Tennessee, and that's where Coach Donovan must preach patience, patience, patience.

Wildcats Offense/Gators Defense
One strength Kentucky had in the first meeting was their ability to create offense underneath with their big center, Randolph Morris.  In the second half Morris helped the Cats claw back slowly with his presence underneath the basket.  His final totals were 18 points and nine rebounds, as he did everything he possibly could to help the Cats try to win.  Unfortunately for him, none of his guards could help him.

Kentucky was able to only hit 3-22 three pointers on the evening, a number that basically lost them the game when it all comes down to it.  With Noah and Horford out and an increased sense of Morris's presence underneath, this really was the deciding factor in the game on February 10th.

The Gators must be able to defend the three point shot tomorrow, especially from guards Ramel Bradley and Joe Crawford -- two guys who have combined to hit 119 threes this season.  This becomes increasingly important if they can dominate the game in the paint, which has been a problem for the Orange and Blue as of late.

Prior to this little skid I would have full confidence that, if they stayed out of foul trouble, either Joakim Noah or Al Horford could handle the task of shutting down the Kentucky big men underneath.  I still have that feeling with Horford; with Noah, though, it may be a different story due to his, along with the rest of the team's poor defensive play as of late.

Really it all comes down to team defense.  The Gators have been failing at it as of late, giving up very easy baskets to the opposition.  They can't allow that to happen against Kentucky tomorrow if they want to somewhat improve their momentum headed into the post-season.
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Tomorrow is Senior day for Chris Richard and Lee Humphrey.  Lets send them off winners in their last game in the O-Dome.  And on that note, lets get some momentum headed into both the SEC and NCAA tournaments.

The game is at noon tomorrow and will be shown on CBS Sports.

Go Gators!

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