Monday, April 23, 2018
Sports

No. 8 Florida Gators prepare to take on No. 1 Kentucky Wildcats

GAINESVILLE — When you're preparing to face the No. 1 team in the nation, on its home court where it boasts the nation's longest home winning streak, it might be easy to get caught up in the hype.

But as No. 8 Florida prepares to play at No. 1 Kentucky Tuesday in a nationally-televised, primetime game, the reality of what's behind that ranking is more of what the Gators are concerned about.

Kentucky is in sole possession of first place in the SEC, has won 15 consecutive games this season, has the nation's leading shot blocker in Anthony Davis (4.8 per game) and hasn't lost at Rupp Arena in three years.

So really, what's No. 1 got to do with it? At least that's the way the Gators are approaching it.

"We don't really view it as playing the No. 1 team; it's just Kentucky," Florida freshman Bradley Beal said. "It's a league game so we're just coming in with the mentality we're just going to play our game, and focus in on what we need to do. And now worry they are the No. 1 team and we're trying to beat the No. 1 team. We're just trying to win a game."

Kentucky also isn't concerned about the ranking.

"I think we've been challenging ourselves really well to make sure that none of that has even been a problem, or a thought in our heads, that we're No. 1," sophomore forward Terrence Jones said. "We're just playing good teams and trying to compete."

Florida coach Billy Donovan said Kentucky has put together such an impressive streak because of the extraordinary talent coach John Calipari has assembled annually since his arrival. And this year is no exception.

"I think John has done an unbelievable job recruiting," Donovan said. "I think since I've been in the league, I don't know if there's been a program that has brought in as much talent as he has the last three years. They can win a lot of different ways. They can win with the game going up and down the floor, they can win grinding it out, they can win with their defense, they can win with their offense, they shoot well from beyond the 3-point line. They have a lot of answers with personnel at every single spot. They really don't have a lot of weaknesses in their team."

The Gators are on a seven-game winning streak, but Florida is 2-4 on the road, and will be trying to win at a place the Gators have earned just three victories in 15 years under Donovan.

"I think it's no pressure on us going into Rupp playing our game," junior guard Kenny Boynton said. "I just think we've got to go there with a winning mindset and everything else will take care of itself. A win would get us a lot of respect, but at the end of the day they are just another SEC team, like a Tennessee or South Carolina. I think if we go out and play like we've been playing lately we've got a great chance at winning."

In some ways, Calipari agrees. His team is still a work in progress, he said, and his biggest job Tuesday may be keeping the Wildcats level-headed.

"First of all, I'm going to talk to them a little bit about let's make sure we're being humble guys, let's understand why we've been winning and let's understand where we have to take this," Calipari said. "The issue that we have is that we're one of the youngest teams in country. … Three freshmen start, one comes off the bench, two sophomores start. Darius Miller is a senior but we're really young. So there's an easy transition from a swagger to arrogance and that's where you get beat."

Antonya English can be reached at [email protected]

Comments
Former Rays pitcher Danny Farquhar “progressing well’ after surgery

Former Rays pitcher Danny Farquhar “progressing well’ after surgery

As former teammates with the Rays and throughout baseball share thoughts and prayers, RHP Danny Farquhar is "progressing well" in a Chicago hospital after suffering a hemorrhage caused by a brain aneurysm on Friday.The White Sox on Monday released th...
Updated: 1 hour ago

High school scoreboard for April 23

Monday’s scoreboardBaseballCanterbury 10, Citrus Park Christian 0Northeast 12, Countryside 5
Updated: 1 hour ago

Tuesday’s sports on TV/radio

TODAYBaseballTwins at Yankees6:30 p.m.MLB; 1040-AMRays at Orioles7 p.m.Fox Sun; 620-AMMarlins at Dodgers10 p.m.FSFCollege baseballCoastal Carolina at North Carolina6 p.m.ESPNUMississippi at Mississippi State7 p.m.SECCreighton at Nebraska7:30 p.m.Big ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Alex Cobb and Logan Morrison have ex-Ray vision. Here’s what they see.

Alex Cobb and Logan Morrison have ex-Ray vision. Here’s what they see.

ST. PETERSBURG — Absolutely, Alex Cobb was saying over the phone, it's going to be weird pitching Tuesday against the Rays.The organization that he owes so much for rearing him since high school, standing by him through assorted injuries, enabl...
Updated: 2 hours ago
The key to the Lightning’s success

The key to the Lightning’s success

This is quite the run the Lightning is on over the past five years.A playoff appearance in 2014. A trip to the Stanley Cup final in 2015. A return to the Eastern Conference final in 2016. A near-miss of the postseason last season. And now back in the...
Updated: 4 hours ago
HomeTeam Hot Shot winners: Brooke Blankenship and Luca Tresh

HomeTeam Hot Shot winners: Brooke Blankenship and Luca Tresh

Brooke Blankenship, Academy at the LakesAcademy at the Lakes knew it would be difficult to manufacture runs during last week's anticipated matchup with Land O'Lakes and Gators ace Callie Turner.So the Wildcats decided to steal a run.This wasn't any h...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Shaquem Griffin on TODAY show: ‘I’m not limited to nothing’

Shaquem Griffin on TODAY show: ‘I’m not limited to nothing’

Shaquem Griffin's ability to play football without a left hand has made him the talk of the NFL draft. But the former Lakewood High and UCF star is determined to silence such talk with his play."It gets tiring," Griffin said today...
Updated: 8 hours ago
HomeTeam 25: Softball rankings for Tampa Bay

HomeTeam 25: Softball rankings for Tampa Bay

1. Sunlake (22-1)Up next: Wednesday vs. Clearwater-Northeast winner (7A-10 semifinals)The buzz: The Seahawks beat Anclote, Gulf and Zephyrhills last week to extend their win streak to 16, currently the longest in the area. Sunlake has been dominant, ...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Polly want a sacker: Bucs’ 4th-round draft pick to be delivered by parrot

Polly want a sacker: Bucs’ 4th-round draft pick to be delivered by parrot

Late-round NFL draft picks are often made on a wing and a prayer.The Bucs' fourth-round pick Saturday will be no different. The team announced Monday that as part of the NFL draft TV broadcast, the team's fourth-round pick will be delivered to an ann...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Projecting where USF’s prospects will get drafted

Projecting where USF’s prospects will get drafted

For all the analyses and hypotheses, all the Mels and McShays, all the pro days and private workouts, the NFL draft remains a crap shoot at its core.But just for kicks, we're rolling the dice anyway.As a prelude to what could — could — be...
Updated: 11 hours ago