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Florida vs. Kentucky, Game Thread: Gators are last line of defense against Wildcats

Can Florida do the unthinkable?

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

It may be tempting to think that Florida has a chance against Kentucky on this Saturday.

Florida is getting back Michael Frazier II in some capacity, and led Kentucky at halftime at home with him at full strength back in February. Dorian Finney-Smith has been quite good for the Gators since returning from his suspension. Florida itself has recovered from three games of hideous offense to play much better on possessions not ending in turnovers or free throws since Finney-Smith's return. And the Gators' defense has been phenomenal, especially given the personnel on hand, all season: Kentucky has one of the best defenses to ever play against the SEC, but with eight or nine future NBA players in John Calipari's rotation, that makes sense; Florida has the second-best defense in the league without a single player who would surely be an NBA draft pick this year.

This is all well and good, but Kentucky is not blowing its chance at immortality on Senior Night (Senior Day, given the 2 p.m. start on CBS?) at Rupp against these Gators. The Wildcats are bigger, stronger, faster, far better on offense, and significantly better on defense than Florida, and their 30-0 blitz to begin this season has featured them handling better teams (Texas, Mississippi, Arkansas) at home. Maybe the Gators lead for a while; maybe they even scare Kentucky. They're not going to win.

Unless, of course, they do.

Beating Kentucky today would be the most unlikely outcome of a season of randomness for Florida. The Gators are good enough to get hot and do that, I still believe, even if it would require shooting the lights out from deep and suddenly becoming good from the foul line, and I won't totally judge the infinitesimal chance of springing this colossal upset as false hope. Florida's been bad, by the ridiculously lofty standards of Billy Donovan-coached teams, this year, but it's not been so bad that it can't compete.

Unless, of course, it doesn't.

That hypothetical turtling is something that I could see this team doing in this setting at cavernous Rupp, which should be a cauldron of emotion today. Florida was the last team to beat Kentucky there, and left tens of thousands of fans silent — Casey Prather's immortal "We love the silence" quote came after Florida's win at Kentucky in 2014. You can bet revenge is on Big Blue's mind today.

Florida's been mentally tough and surprisingly whole-hearted all year, when every bad bounce has seemed like one that could break this team's back, so it would be a bit of a shock to see this team bow now.

But it would be in keeping with 2014-15 Florida, a team full of surprises.

The only thing to expect for certain with this team is the unexpected.