At the midway point of SEC play, Florida is 6-2, behind 6-1 Alabama for the overall lead and a half game clear of 5-2 Tennessee. Tonight's game against 4-3 Kentucky is Florida's first chance to take a step towards their first SEC regular season championship since 2007.
Florida has been fortunate in that they are old enough to win games, without playing well. UF doesn't allow a lot of points, but it is because they don't foul a lot of guys. They are 9th in the league in shooting percentage defense, but 2nd (and 35th nationally) in scoring defense. On the opposite end, they are an average offensive team because they are awful at the foul line, shooting 64.0 percent, which is 274th in the nation. UF protects the ball enough (1.1 assists/turns), but if they were even 75 percent at the line and had less turnovers, we would not spend every UF game frustrated as UF rolls to a single-digit win or blows it for a single-digit loss.
That age and ability to win when you play like garbage will come in handy against a young Kentucky team that is scoring about nine points less in seven road games. Kentucky overcame an early road test at Louisville, but they have lost 3 of 4 road SEC games. UK has two great freshmen in Brandon Knight and Terrence Jones, but that's it. They are running a six-man rotation (six guys are 20mpg; next closest is 9mpg) and even if Knight and Jones can get their double figures, if the other three on the floor struggle, they get in trouble. Florida isn't exactly deep, but Erik Murphy and Patric Young are competent, as Scotty Wilbekin slowly matures.
A loss tonight doesn't hurt UF too much, but a win would not only boost UF's chances in the league, it would further hurt the road psyche of the young Wildcats.