Kentucky basketball got the win it needed to close the regular season.
The Wildcats hosted SEC rival Florida in a must-win game for Kentucky and its chances to make the NCAA tournament. Kentucky was able to get the 61-57 victory by holding the Gators scoreless for the final 7:36 of the game.
John Calipari's squad didn't win the SEC regular-season title, but it did position itself for a run in the SEC tournament.
Let's take a look at what we learned in Kentucky's victory.
Julius Mays isn't the most well-known name in the country. But, in terms of transfers this past season, no one has meant more to their team than Mays has this season.
After transferring from Wright State to play for the Wildcats for one season, Mays has been the leader of this year's team and the player the Wildcats have deferred to for a big shot when needed.
Mays has been the best on-ball defender for Kentucky and has also directed the offense during Ryan Harrow's struggles. Most importantly on offense, he has found his shot and become the best outside shooter for the Wildcats.
In addition, Mays has been the unquestioned leader for Kentucky and has provided the squad with veteran leadership down the stretch in games the Wildcats need to win.
With the win, Kentucky secured the No. 2 seed in the 2013 SEC Men's Basketball Tournament.
While it doesn't seem that important due to the ups and downs of the SEC this season, it provides Kentucky with a chance to make a run it desperately needs. Most importantly, being the No. 2 seed allows the Wildcats to avoid Florida or Tennessee until the championship game.
Sure, Tennessee doesn't seem like that great of a team, as it is squarely on the bubble for the NCAA tournament, but the Volunteers are the hottest team in the conference right now. Also, from a psychological standpoint, Kentucky may not want to see Tennessee again, thanks in part to a 30-point beatdown earlier this season.
With the tournament finalized, Kentucky gets a chance to boost its resume by having a chance to face Ole Miss or Missouri in the semifinals. A win over Missouri gives the Wildcats another top-50 victory, while beating Ole Miss would allow Kentucky a win over a team like itself on the bubble.
Kentucky freshman Alex Poythress showed he can rebound with anyone in the country based on his performance against Florida.
Poythress pulled down 12 rebounds while spending a majority of the time in the post against either Patric Young or Erik Murphy. Despite giving up size and pounds to both players, Poythress is athletic enough to go up and grab any rebound he wants to.
With his ability to rebound, it allows Kentucky to play Kyle Wiltjer on the perimeter more and help stretch the defense. It also makes opposing players honor Poythress' game and sets up a mismatch for him to take advantage of.
When Poythress rebounds well, the Wildcats win games. Kentucky is 5-0 this season when Poythress has at least nine rebounds. This will be even more important the rest of the season with a shorter bench and a lack of big guys.
Willie Cauley-Stein is the most valuable player to have on the floor for Kentucky right now. With no other true center, it is vital that Cauley-Stein stays out of foul trouble and avoids fatigue.
It showed yesterday when Cauley-Stein was on the floor; Florida struggled to get to the rim and finish, while Patric Young's ability to operate in the post was limited. Offensively, Cauley-Stein might not be the most polished player, but he has shown the ability to run the floor and run the pick-and-roll.
Yesterday, it was obvious to see how vital it was to have the freshman from Kansas on the floor. Despite having four fouls and only trailing by one, John Calipari inserted Cauley-Stein back into the lineup with 11 minutes left in the game.
Cauley-Stein was able to avoid picking up his fifth foul while altering the way Florida played. Without another true post player, it is vital that Cauley-Stein is on the floor for 35-plus minutes a game. He has found his niche since the Nerlens Noel injury by challenging shots and finishing at the rim.
It will be up to Cauley-Stein and his ability to stay on the floor if Kentucky wants to make any noise in March.
The most important take from Kentucky's win over Florida is the fact that the Wildcats played their way onto the right side of the bubble.
Jerry Palm of CBS has Kentucky as a No. 12 seed playing LaSalle in the First Four game. Regardless, if Kentucky does have to play in Dayton for a First Four game, it has a chance to make a run to defend its championship.
If the Wildcats play the way they did against Florida, they can compete with anyone in the country. Kentucky may have found its confidence and ability to play together.
Regardless of its record, when teams see Kentucky in its bracket, the name still resonates. With no great teams in college basketball this year, all it takes is the ability to get hot at the right moment. The win over Florida very well could be that moment for the Wildcats.