Kentucky Basketball: 5 Things We Learned from Win over Florida
A combination of poor shooting and playing the Kentucky Wildcats does not mix well. Just ask the Florida Gators. The 78-58 drubbing Kentucky displayed to the nation was the worst loss Florida has taken all year, and it set John Calipari's personal record for home wins with a team.
When Florida came into Rupp Arena Feb. 7, they were expecting a very close game. And could blame them? After all, they hung with Ohio State in Value City Arena and played Syracuse within four points in the Carrier Dome.
Before the game, all the pressure was said to be on the Wildcats. After all, it was Calipari's squad that was dubbed as being his best team. The Wildcats were the team with so much to lose—a No. 1 ranking, Calipari's perfect home record and an unblemished conference record.
Florida was supposed to be Kentucky's toughest test in conference play thus far. Their elite backcourt led a very talented squad into Rupp with a seven-game win streak. But it was Kentucky's backcourt, led by Marquis Teague and Doron Lamb, that controlled the game throughout.
Here are the five lessons learned from Kentucky's win over Florida:
Florida Is Awful on the Road
With their loss at Kentucky, Florida moves to 2-5 in true road games. Their win over Mississippi was decided in the final minute. Only against South Carolina did the Gators put together a double-digit win on the road.
For a team that lives and dies by the three-point arc, this can be expected. Indiana is another example of this. Both are teams that, when they shoot well, are able to hang with any team in the country (evident in Indiana's win over Kentucky and Ohio State). When they shoot poorly, they can easily be upset (evident in Florida's loss to Rutgers and Tennessee).
Billy Donovan's squad plays four of their last six games on the road. Their road woes will have to be addressed if they expect to finish the season near the top of the SEC.
Rupp Arena Matters
In case you hadn't noticed, Kentucky is a great team at home. Their 49-game win streak at home is tops in the nation, and it doesn't look like it will break any time soon.
Kentucky's margin of victory at home is a whopping 22.9 points per game compared to their 14.7 margin of victory in hostile arenas. Remove the slaughter of South Carolina on Feb. 4, and Kentucky's margin of victory drops to 10.8 points per game.
John Calipari knows his team will be on the receiving end of every team's best effort. That effort is magnified on the road and diminished among the Big Blue faithful that occupy Rupp Arena.
Terrence Jones Has Matured
It appeared that Terrence Jones was playing with lead in his shoes. He was in the right place at the right time, he just mistimed his jumps or couldn't get up high enough to finish shots at the rim. Jones' first half was cut short after he picked up his second foul with 7:24 to play.
The "Indiana Jones" would have pouted on the bench because of his poor play. But the Terrence Jones that showed himself against Florida hustled after loose balls and continued to play hard. This is an excellent sign moving forward for Kentucky.
Jones provides the perfect counter to teams that try to beat Kentucky on the inside. What Anthony Davis lacks is the beef to battle low-post players. Jones has the body to do that, and this game, he had the mindset to match.
Terrence Jones finished the game just 2-of-7 from the floor, but he did pull down seven rebounds.
Marquis Teague Is Almost There
Marquis Teague has not arrived.
Teague recorded his first double-double of his career against Florida, dishing out 10 assists to go along with his 12 points on 4-of-6 shooting from the field. What is most impressive about this stat line is that it came against the most talented backcourt Kentucky has played against this year.
His maturity has stimulated Kentucky's dominance in the past few games. If Teague can put together a solid performance at Vanderbilt on Feb. 11, it will be safe to say that he has arrived.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist Is a Cut Above
The hustle Michael Kidd-Gilchrist displays on a nightly basis is phenomenal. His point total will never be overwhelming (13 points in 39 minutes), but his intangibles are everything you look for in a basketball player.
When Anthony Davis blocked Mike Rosario's three-point attempt in the middle of the first half, it was Kidd-Gilchrist that went soaring out of bounds to try and keep the ball in play.
He and Florida freshman Bradley Beal are often compared because they play the same position and were both highly-touted coming out of high school. It was clear who won the battle in this game—Kidd-Gilchrist scored one less point on seven less shots, grabbed seven more rebounds and matched Beal in assists.