LEXINGTON, KY - FEBRUARY 07: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist #14 and Anthony Davis #23 of the Kentucky Wildcats defend Jacob Kurtz #1 of the Florida Gators during the game at Rupp Arena on February 7, 2012 in Lexington, Kentucky. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
One of the teams on the floor at Rupp Arena tonight looked destined to win a national title in April. It wasn't Florida.
The Gators were thoroughly outclassed by Kentucky on Tuesday, falling 78-58 on the road to a Wildcats squad that looked more athletic, more poised, and more ready to make a deep run in the NCAA Tournament.
Anthony Davis dominated Florida down low, with 16 points, six rebounds, and four blocks, three in the first half, and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist blew by Florida's defense, getting 13 points and 13 rebounds. Doron Lamb bombed away from deep, making four threes and scoring 18 points to lead all scorers, and Marquis Teague recovered from a shaky start and five turnovers to score 12 points and hand out 10 assists.
I list Kentucky's stats first because they matter more, and because, after the Gators zipped out to a 6-0 start, the Wildcats got whatever they wanted.
Kentucky is better than Florida, and to a degree that Erving Walker going squat-for-seven from the field is both awful and completely within the realm of reason. The 'Cats make things hard for shooters, which is part of why Florida made just six of 27 threes, and part of why Bradley Beal was most effective as a driver, and part of why Kenny Boynton's hot streak in the second half to finish with 18 points came after the outcome was beyond doubt. And Kentucky makes things difficult down low, too, which is why Patric Young had 12 points and just four rebounds.
And Kentucky is resilient enough to recover from an roundhouse to the jaw or two — Florida opened the second half on a 4-0 run after its 6-0 game-opening run, but Kentucky shrugged both runs off and redoubled — and suffocating enough on defense to weather its own bad shooting. The Wildcats made three of their first 12 shots, but Florida led just 10-9 after that stretch, and never led after 15-13 with 11:25 to go in the first half.
Florida's still talented, and still has a chance to make its own season special. But a monstrous team that looks like a squad of octopuses on defense and has a tiger's killer instincts on offense (Kidd-Gilchrist is a terror nonpareil in transition) splattered the Gators on the road tonight.