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Kentucky Defeats Florida 74-66; NCAA Bid Will Have To Come In Nashville

The Gators finished the regular season on a three-game losing streak with their 74-66 loss to Kentucky. The Gators are 20-11, but more importantly 9-7 in the SEC, when 10-6 would have nearly guaranteed an NCAA bid.

Once again, five minute stretches of no offense sunk the Gators. With 5:35 left, UF fought back to a 62-60 deficit. But Kentucky (29-2, 14-2) went on a 6-0 run, with UF not scoring until the 1:40 mark, to make it 68-62. It is even worse when you realize that at 10:34, it was 59-56 for UK as neither team was making buckets in the last 10 minutes. Florida had chances to comeback, but could not rise to the challenge.

UK did play good defense, using their length to force UF into 13 turnovers while blocking eight shots. Patrick Patterson scored 13 for the 'Cats, but DeMarcus Cousins had eight points, instead being a monster UF had to drive and shoot around. UK's guards were the stars, with John Wall scoring 11 and eight assists, while Eric Bledsoe and Darius Miller each got 14 points.

Chandler Parsons, in a replay of his Vanderbilt performance, struggled with nine points on 2-6 shooting. Alex Tyus got 12, Kenny Boynton got 11 and Erik Murphy had 11. Late in the game, Billy Donovan kept Dan Werner (who attempted zero shots, zero points and had three rebounds in 25 minutes) in the game over Murphy, who added six rebounds in his 17 minutes. Erving Walker was 3 of 15 shooting for eight points, but his eight rebounds and four assists were enough to keep him in over Ray Shipman (nine points on 3-4 shooting in nine minutes). 

During the game, a friend texted me to say that, "This is, by far, the most frustrating Gator team to watch ever. Zook's teams included." I agreed with this, but my knowledge of Gator sports begins with Steve Spurrier, so I don't know how accurate this is. What I do know is that while Kentucky and Tennessee are more talented than Florida, those teams can play a 40 minute game. Florida, in the last three seasons, can't play 40 minutes. Against good teams, Florida fails to function for 5-10 minutes, either at the beginning or the end. It may have against cost them a spot in the NCAA Tournament.

Florida faces Auburn (15-16, 6-10) Thursday at 7:30 ET in the SEC Tournament. The winner faces Mississippi State (21-10, 9-7) on Friday. Should UF face Miss State, the winner might get the final SEC bid.