When the Gators lead Kentucky by 13 points midway through the second half, it looked as if Florida was going to pour it on the young Wildcats. Six minutes later, the Gators were down one and looked like the team that has caused stomach aches and obscenities for their fans.
But the Gators (18-5, 7-2) climbed back into the game with rebounding and timely free throw shooting to defeat Kentucky, 70-68. Turning around their most awful statistic, the Gators were 18-22 at the line. Five of UF's last seven points were at the line. Chandler Parsons led the Gators with 17 points and an aggressive game that had him spinning into the lane and following deep missed jumpers from Erving Walker and Kenny Boynton with putbacks.
Walker and Boynton combined for 21 points, but also 5-21 shooting. Following Saturday night, they need to start looking over their shoulder at Scottie Wilbekin, who had nine points (3-3 shooting, 2-2 from three, 1-2 at the line) in only 16 minutes. Donovan kept Wilbekin in for long stretches, demonstrating his confidence in the freshman, and sending a message to Walker and Boynton that their brick show cannot continue. Florida's successful first half was based in part on Wilbekin running the offense and scoring when he was open.
Florida's victory is significant in that Kentucky (16-6, 4-4) has lost their fourth SEC road game and second consecutive game in which they had a last second shot to win. The Wildcats got big numbers from Terrence Jones and Brandon Knight, but they don't have a Wilbekin, Patric Young or Erik Murphy, who can get 10-15 minutes and be competent. UF is winning only because of these guys, because they still lack the shooting and killer instinct to crush the throat of their opponents when they have a big lead.
Florida's next game is Wednesday at South Carolina (13-8, 4-4)