BY: John Mamola
The Florida Gators finished an undefeated SEC season extending their school record winning streak to 23 games with a 84-65 win over #25 Kentucky. With the win, the Gators become the first team in SEC history to finish a season 18-0 in conference play since the 18-game schedule was introduced 29 years ago.
In what will be the final game for Florida’s senior class at the O-Dome, emotions were high and the play was fast. The Gators came out with a flurry of action in the first half as Patric Young and the senior class came out shooting. Young finished the first half with 14 points and five rebounds as the Gators used a 21-12 run to end the first twenty minutes leading 49-28.
The Gators led by as much as 22 points which also set a new season high for Kentucky as their largest deficit of the season. Florida shot 61% from the field including 58% from three point range by halftime, but the second half would bring change to the tempo and emotions of the contest.
Kentucky answered back immediately in the second half and wanting to avenge a 69-59 loss to Florida on Feb. 15, which snapped a 22-game win streak in Lexington. Julius Randle and James Young led a freshman attack and the Wildcats on a 19-4 run to being the second frame to close within six points of the Gators at one point.
However the Wildcats couldn’t get any closer. Scottie Wilbekin scored eleven of his thirteen points in the second half, as the Gators were able to use a 10-0 run to extend their lead over the Wildcats to as high as twenty points. Kentucky never had a lead in the game as the Gators make history on their way to the SEC tournament beginning on Friday.
Young led the Gators with 18 points, Casey Prather added 15 points shooting a perfect 5-5 from the field. The Gators shot 59.6% from the field and have now won 32 straight games at home.
You can catch the Gators first game of the SEC tournament on Friday afternoon on WDAE beginning at 12:25pm, with a 1:00pm tipoff.