Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Florida Gators fall to Kentucky Wildcats in SEC basketball tournament final

Kentucky’s Eloy Vargas, right, shoots as teammate DeAndre Liggins and UF’s Vernon Macklin fall during the second half. Macklin had seven points and five turnovers, part of an inside game that coach Billy Donovan said wasn’t strong or physical enough.

Associated Press

Kentucky’s Eloy Vargas, right, shoots as teammate DeAndre Liggins and UF’s Vernon Macklin fall during the second half. Macklin had seven points and five turnovers, part of an inside game that coach Billy Donovan said wasn’t strong or physical enough.

ATLANTA — The once-beleaguered Kentucky team that many wrote off during a 3-4 stretch of the season capped off its impressive SEC tournament run Sunday with a 70-54 victory over Florida in front of 21,409 at the Georgia Dome.

It was the 28th SEC tournament championship for the storied Kentucky program, its sixth in Atlanta.

It was a bitterly disappointing outcome for the Gators (26-7), particularly for their seniors who have never cut down the nets.

"It hurts, but we have been here before," senior forward Chandler Parsons said. "We obviously wanted to be in that situation (as winners), but we've got to move on and we've got bigger things ahead of us. We want to make a run in the (NCAA) Tournament. It hurts right now and I'm sure it's going to hurt later, but we've got to move past that and look forward to the tournament."

For the Gators, who had to play from behind in their quarterfinal and semifinal wins, it was much of the same. Florida trailed by nine early, then came back to take a 24-21 lead with 10:26 remaining in the first half.

But Kentucky (25-8) countered with a 10-0 run to take a 31-24 lead, eventually outscoring Florida 13-5 in the final 9:20 of the half. The Gators went scoreless for a 7:10 stretch of the first half, and never led again.

The Wildcats played tough perimeter defense, holding starting guards Kenny Boynton and Erving Walker to a combined 18 points and 7-of-26 from the field.

"We really tried to focus in on keeping them away from shooting open threes, and then rebounding the ball," said UK guard Darius Miller, who had 15 points and six rebounds and was named tournament MVP. "We wanted every shot they had to be contested."

Florida was 12-of-32 from the field in the first half, and trailed by five at halftime. Kentucky opened the second half with a 7-0 run as the Gators continued to struggle with turnovers and missed scoring opportunities.

"The difference tonight from other games is we just missed shots," said Boynton (18.7 points in the tournament), who along with Parsons (12.3 points, 8.7 rebounds) was named to the All-Tournament team. "Easy layups around the rim, jumpers from outside weren't falling. So on nights like this, you have to play more defense."

Kentucky shot 41 percent from the field and scored 20 off 14 Florida turnovers. Four Wildcats scored in double figures, including DeAndre Liggins who suffered a sprained ankle on Saturday. Kentucky's Doron Lamb, who also suffered a sprained ankle Saturday, scored six in 23 minutes.

The Gators struggled with their inside game. Center Vernon Macklin had seven points and five turnovers.

And the outside shots didn't fall. Florida, which had four starters in double figures in the quarterfinals and three in the semifinals, had one — Boynton with 10 — on Sunday.

Kentucky took advantage of 22 Florida personal fouls, hitting 24-of-29 free throws, including 10 of 12 in the final 2:18 to secure the victory.

"The biggest thing was I didn't think we were strong enough and physical enough around the basket," Florida coach Billy Donovan said. "… There was such a huge discrepancy from the free-throw line (UF was 3-of-8) and Kentucky probably took the ball (to the hoop) a little bit more physically than we did. The difference was I thought was we weren't physical enough to get fouled."

Antonya English can be reached at english@sptimes.com.

No. 15 UK 70

No. 12 UF 54

Florida Gators fall to Kentucky Wildcats in SEC basketball tournament final 03/13/11 [Last modified: Sunday, March 13, 2011 7:40pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Minors also a training ground for umpires with big-league dreams

    The Heater

    Umpire Tom Fornarola, 23, left, and Taylor Payne, 24, facing, talk before the start of the Gulf Coast League game between the New York Yankees and the Detroit Tigers at the Tigertown complex in Lakeland, Fla. on Wednesday, July 5, 2017.
  2. For starters: Souza not in lineup vs. Rangers

    Blogs

     

  3. Remember that famous Fred McGriff TV commercial? He's back, in a parody

    Blogs

    If you've ever seen Fred McGriff's TV commerical for Tom Emanski's Defensive Drills video it will always be fresh in your mind, with the deadpan delivery and famously ill-fitting cap.

  4. Fennelly: Is Charlie Strong the anti-Freeze?

    College

    The Hugh Sleaze era at Ole Mess is over.

    Hugh Freeze resigned as head football coach Thursday to avoid being fired by Mississippi school officials. For those of you who had NCAA violations and investigations in the pool, you were wrong. Nor was it the defamation lawsuit filed against the school by former Rebels …

    FILE - In this Sept. 5, 2016, file photo, Mississippi coach Hugh Freeze pauses during a timeout in the team's NCAA college football game against Florida State in Orlando, Fla. Freeze has resigned after five seasons, bringing a stunning end to a once-promising tenure. The school confirmed Freeze's resignation in a release Thursday night. Assistant Matt Luke has been named the interim coach. (AP Photo/John Raoux, File) NY176
  5. Rowdies part of a record-setting season for USL attendance

    Soccer

    ST. PETERSBURG — Although Rowdies fans haven't had many recent opportunities to show out at Al Lang, the United Soccer League turnstiles keep turning at a record rate.

    A Rowdies fan waves flags ahead of the first half of the game between Tampa Bay Rowdies and Orlando City B at Al Lang Stadium in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Saturday, March 25, 2017.