Sunday, June 24, 2018
Sports

Experience carries Florida past Kentucky

LEXINGTON, Ky. — Florida had the same plan when it was trailing and when it pulled ahead. The third-ranked Gators just wanted to maintain their composure.

That steady approach turned into a big win at one of college basketball's most hostile venues.

Scottie Wilbekin scored 23 and hit five critical free throws down the stretch, and Florida rallied for a tense 69-59 victory over No. 14 Kentucky late Saturday in a matchup of the Southeastern Conference's top teams.

"It was just one of those games where you have to kind of stay the course," Gators coach Billy Donovan said.

Casey Prather had 24 points on 8-of-9 shooting as Florida tied a school record with its 17th straight win.

Kentucky led the Gators 45-38 with 11:10 left, with the crowd in Lexington going wild.

But as Florida center Patric Young said, "Nobody ever won a game with 11 minutes left."

The veteran Gators (23-2, 12-0 SEC) turned to their best players down the stretch en route to their first victory at Rupp Arena since 2007. Point guard Wilbekin made 11 of 12 free throws, including two after Kentucky coach John Calipari was whistled for a technical with 8:14 left.

"I feel like I'm always confident," said Wilbekin, who was 5-of-10 from the field and had no turnovers. "When the ball's in my hands, I feel like I have to make a play. I try to get to the basket or get the best shot for our team."

Young added 10 points, including two three-point plays during a 13-3 spurt that put the Gators ahead for good. Florida shot 60 percent in the second half and 44 percent (22-of-50) overall while controlling every major statistic except rebounding.

Andrew Harrison scored 20 for Kentucky (19-6, 9-3), which had won 22 straight home games. Julius Randle had 13 points and 13 rebounds but didn't hit a field goal in the second half.

Kentucky outrebounded Florida 31-28 but couldn't grab an errant shot at the biggest moments, especially on the offensive end. The Gators took advantage for a 12-8 edge in second-chance points and basically controlled the paint, outscoring the Wildcats 34-22.

"We're not ready to win that kind of game," Calipari said. "And I told them that. We've got to understand and listen. Take responsibility. If a guy outplayed you, admit it."

The Gators scored at least a point on each of their final 13 possessions. They hit 7 of 10 field goals and 15 of 17 free throws to close the game.

"Down the stretch they had the mental discipline. They locked in, and we kind of had breakdowns," Randle said. "You gotta be willing to make the tough plays. We didn't make enough of them."

Comments
Rodney Page’s takeaways from Sunday’s Rays-Yankees game

Rodney Page’s takeaways from Sunday’s Rays-Yankees game

The catwalks at Tropicana Field are arguably the worst feature, but they  came in handy for the Rays on Sunday. Yankees pinch-hitter Clint Frazier hit what looked to be a ninth-inning home run that would've given them a one-run lead. Instea...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Rays beat Yankees in 12 innings on Jake Bauers homer

Rays beat Yankees in 12 innings on Jake Bauers homer

ST. PETERSBURG — Rays first baseman Jake Bauers sat at his locker after Sunday afternoon's 7-6, 12-inning win over the Yankees and thumbed through his text messages. There was no way he could get through them all. That's what happens when ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Rays journal: Yarbrough comes through, Venters to DL, support for Ramos

Rays journal: Yarbrough comes through, Venters to DL, support for Ramos

ST. PETERSBURG — Ryan Yarbrough was only supposed to throw on Sunday if it was an emergency. In the 12th inning with the score tied 6-6 and a runner on first, there was an emergency.Jonny Venters tweaked his right hamstring trying to cover firs...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Rays season turning into good one

Rays season turning into good one

ST. PETERSBURG — The Tampa Bay Rays are not the best team in baseball. They are not going to win the World Series this year. Heck, they probably won't even make the playoffs.But I tell you what. This team is a heck of a lot of fun to watch.And ...
Updated: 1 hour ago

A local hockey draftee? Mitchell grad Nathan Smith is just that

TAMPA — Every year during draft season, local players from the Tampa Bay area are selected in the NFL, MLB and even NBA drafts.But hockey?Sure enough, in the third round of Saturday's NHL draft, the Winnipeg Jets selected Nathan Smith, a forwar...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Rays sweep Yankees with Bauers walk-off in 12 innings

Rays sweep Yankees with Bauers walk-off in 12 innings

Tampa Bay Rays first baseman Jake Bauers (9) hit a walkoff homerun during the Tampa Bay Rays game against the New York Yankees at Tropicana Field on June 24, 2018, in St. Petersburg, Fla. The Rays won 7-6.Tampa Bay Rays first baseman Jake Bauers (9)...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Rays team up to beat Yankees again 4-0

Rays team up to beat Yankees again 4-0

ST. PETERSBURG — With all that's been said, tweeted, ranted and written on these pages and elsewhere about the Rays' odd, unorthodox, weird and some days downright wacky pitching plan, this might be the craziest thing yet:It's working.Like, rea...
Published: 06/23/18
Greg Auman answers your questions about NFL’s investigation into Jameis Winston

Greg Auman answers your questions about NFL’s investigation into Jameis Winston

There are many unanswered questions and discrepancies about the story of Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston and the March 2016 Uber ride in Arizona that has led to his upcoming three-game suspension for violating the NFL's conduct policy.The Bucs won't ...
Published: 06/23/18
Will this be Jameis Winston’s last season in a Bucs uniform?

Will this be Jameis Winston’s last season in a Bucs uniform?

A t his introductory news conference after being drafted No. 1 overall by the Bucs in 2015, Jameis Winston said to judge him on his actions moving forward."Actions speak so much louder than words, or what they may have read or what they may have hear...
Published: 06/23/18
Rays Tales: Why ‘trades’ and ‘prospects’ are always in same conversation

Rays Tales: Why ‘trades’ and ‘prospects’ are always in same conversation

Besides the continual evolution of their intriguing pitching plan, the primary topics of conversation for the Rays over the next several weeks will be trades and prospects. And not mutually exclusively.Some sooner than others, the Rays are going to c...
Published: 06/23/18