The Florida Gators took the lead midway through the first half on Tuesday night and never looked back, cruising to a 69-52 victory over the Kentucky Wildcats in Gainesville.
It was a back-and-forth affair until No. 7 Florida began pulling away inside 12 minutes to play in the first half. The two teams were tied, 11-11, before the Gators closed off the half on a 27-14 run. The No. 25 Wildcats found themselves in a 38-25 hole through 20 minutes.
Mike Rosario (10 points), Scottie Wilbekin (eight points, four assists), Casey Prather (eight points) and Patric Young (five rebounds, three blocks) led Florida in the first half.
Kentucky freshman forward Alex Poythress (averaging 12.3 points on 61 percent shooting this season) stumbled in the first 20 minutes, posting just four points on 1-of-6 shooting.
The Wildcats had 11 turnovers in the first half alone.
Things only got worse for Kentucky in the second half, as turnovers and poor shooting continued to plague the team down the stretch.
Poythress made a single free throw to start the second half, but Florida then rattled off seven unanswered points to put the Wildcats in even more of a hole.
Kentucky simply looked sloppy and off point throughout Tuesday's game. The Wildcats looked nothing like a Top 25 team and the inexperience on the roster showed.
But just when Kentucky appeared to be inching back into the game, freshman star Nerlens Noel landed awkwardly trying to block a layup attempt by Rosario. He had to be helped off the floor by his teammates and taken to the locker room. If the injury is serious, it figures to be a huge blow for John Calipari's squad.
Five different Gators scored in double figures on Tuesday night. Florida shot 49 percent as a team, while Kentucky shot 42 percent and committed 17 turnovers.
Kentucky's Alex Poythress didn't do much in the first half, but Bleacher Report's own Matt King apparently only saw the bad:
Alex Poythress only does good things when I'm not watching. He's like Boo the Ghost.— Matt King (@TheRealMattKing) February 13, 2013
Jeff Goodman of CBSSports.com felt the main issue for the Wildcats resided at the point guard position:
If this Kentucky team just had a point guard who could make life easier for Nerlens, Poythress, Goodwin, etc. Harrow just doesn't do that.— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanCBS) February 13, 2013
Drew Franklin of Kentucky Sports Radio wasn't impressed with Mike Rosario's neck tattoo:
Florida should be penalized 25 points for Mike Rosario's neck tattoo. twitter.com/DrewFranklinKS…— Drew Franklin (@DrewFranklinKSR) February 13, 2013
Matt Jones of Kentucky Sports Radio highlighted the Wildcats' poor play throughout the game:
This team is completely out of it right now. Florida isn't even playing particularly well...could be much worse— Matt Jones (@KySportsRadio) February 13, 2013
Eugene Frenette of the Florida Times-Union noted the crux of the matter with 15:57 still remaining in the game:
Here's the only stat that matters: Florida has 18 points off turnovers, to 3 for Kentucky. #Gators up 43-26 early in 2nd half— Eugene Frenette (@GeneFrenette) February 13, 2013
After Nerlens Noel went down with an injury with about eight minutes to play, Heath Cline of 107.5 The Game in Columbia, SC, tweeted:
If Nerlens Noel is seriously injured, it becomes a legit question if UK can make the tournament. Sure hope the kid is going to be okay.— Heath Cline (@heathradio) February 13, 2013