On February 23, the Gators were 9-4 in the league after defeating Tennessee. Needing to win one of their next two games to clinch an NCAA bid, the Gators lost both by a combined score of six points. Today, barring a miracle, they will lose their third straight game, with a loss at Kentucky. (This Gator team has made me a bitter man. But I am hoping for a reverse jinx.)
If it seems too negative to assume that Florida (20-10, 9-6 SEC), it is based on recent history. The Gators' best road win this season was at Ole Miss (21-9, 9-7), who has won their last four games and might steal the fourth and final SEC invitation. Of UF five road wins, only Jacksonville and Ole Miss finished above .500 in their league. The last time UF defeated Kentucky at Rupp Arena was February of 2007.
The Wildcats (28-2, 13-2) defeated UF in January by bludgeoning them; UK made 36 field goals (51%) and had four starters in double figures. UK's 89-77 win came on a night when John Wall struggled, making 7-17 for 19 points. Eric Bledsoe was the stud, scoring 25 and missing only three shots. UF actually took a one point lead with 5:12 left, but was outscored 15-3 to close it out. That game, like every loss this season, was marked by an inability to play a 40 minute game.
Chandler Parsons has been thinking the right things heading into this game, but the writing is on the wall, no pun intended. UK is 18-0 at home, and while they have looked shaky in some road games, they are not losing this game. Especially with Patrick Patterson getting the third-year senior treatment Sunday. Parsons is the only guy Florida has who can match the NBA talent the Cats have (because he works his ass off), but Parsons is finally breaking down from carrying everyone else.
The best thing for Florida is to use Kentucky to prepare for their opening SEC Tournament game against Auburn. Florida has to get in the NCAA Tournament, but the route won't go through Rupp. It will go through Nashville.