The Kentucky Wildcats will travel to the Stephen O’Connell Center to take on the Florida Gators in an important SEC matchup for both teams. The Gators are coming off of a victory against the Mississippi St. Bulldogs after being upset by Arkansas one week ago.
While Poythress and Goodwin are definitely players to watch for UK, fellow freshman forward Nerlens Noel will likely play a big role in Kentucky’s potential upset of Florida.
Kentucky is 23rd in the nation in rebounds per game, with Noel averaging 9.6 per game. Noel will also be depended upon defensively for the Wildcats. He is the nation’s leader in blocks per game (4.5).
The 6’10” Massachusetts native will be key in stopping Florida's seventh-ranked field goal percentage shooting. The Wildcats will have their hands full trying to stop Florida guards Kenny Boynton and Erik Murphy, but if they are kept in check UK will have a good chance to pull the upset.
If Noel is able to sink the short to intermediate shots as well as maintain his presence on defense, then the Wildcats should be able to upset the Gators. Aside from Noel, Poythress and Goodwin will have to be at their best in order to secure the team’s 18th win of the season.
The Wildcat guards will need to defend the perimeter against Florida, after all, Noel can’t do it all by himself. Kentucky should take a page out of Arkansas’ book and try to jump ahead early. Kentucky’s young guys should be able to hold the line against Florida if they are able to get a substantial lead.
Despite being at home, Florida is on upset alert against Kentucky. UK has all the pieces they need to pull out a victory on the road as they match up well against Florida. Kentucky will need to take advantage of every scoring opportunity, especially free throws.
If the Wildcats can keep Florida’s shooters at bay, as well as make their free throws and stay out of foul trouble, then the SEC will get a bit more interesting after tonight.