Make us your home page

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 rally but lose to No. 3 Kentucky

LEXINGTON, Ky. — Florida wanted more than a moral victory.

It didn't get it.

With their NCAA Tournament hopes slipping away, the Gators erased most of a big early deficit against No. 3 Kentucky before falling 74-66 Sunday.

Now, Florida (20-11, 9-7 SEC) may need to win two or more games in this week's conference tournament in Nashville to reach the NCAAs.

"There is no moral victory for us," UF forward Chandler Parsons said. "A loss is a loss. They are the third-best team in the country, and we feel that we can play with anybody on their homecourt and their hostile environment."

The Gators finished the regular season with three straight losses. Still, Kentucky coach John Calipari said he thinks they belong in the NCAA Tournament.

"I'm rooting for them," Calipari said. "They played hard, never quit. They went right at us."

The Wildcats (29-2, 14-2), who had already clinched their 44th SEC title, finished 18-0 at home, tying the 1985-86 team for the best in program history. They last reached 14 league wins in 2005.

It wasn't easy despite a fast start that had Kentucky up by as much as 18 in the first half.

Florida got a slew of uncontested baskets and cut it to 57-54 midway through the second after a 3-pointer by Alex Tyus, who led the Gators with 12 points.

Vernon Macklin's layup made it 60-58 with seven minutes left. Patrick Patterson answered with a dunk and John Wall followed with a 3 to give the Wildcats some breathing room.

"I think in the first half we certainly dug ourselves a hole," Florida coach Billy Donovan said.

Darius Miller got most of his 14 points in the clutch for Kentucky. He made 5 of 7 baskets, including three 3-pointers, one that stopped a 9-1 Florida run.

Afterward, Miller warned that these close calls have got to stop with the postseason about to begin.

"That's happened to us a few times this year," Miller said. "We really need to take care of that. It might not work against some other team."

Kentucky never trailed and began to pad the lead midway through the first half when Miller passed up an open 3-pointer to dish it to Eric Bledsoe, who sank the long jumper instead. On the next trip down, Miller hit a 3, putting the Wildcats up 16-9.

Kenny Boynton answered for Florida by hitting a 3-pointer in transition.

After Tyus hit a fadeaway jumper to cut the Kentucky lead to 20-16 midway through the half, the Gators didn't get a field goal for more than five minutes while the Wildcats went on a 14-0 run.

Miller had five points in that stretch and Darnell Dodson added one of his two 3-pointers. Bledsoe punctuated the run with the showstopping play of the afternoon: a reverse layup that he finished with his back to the basket while plummeting out of bounds. That gave the Wildcats their largest early lead at 34-18.

Florida cut the deficit to 41-31 at halftime.

Calipari typically starts three freshmen and one sophomore, but the team's lone seniors, Mark Krebs, Perry Stevenson and Ramon Harris, started and played the first five minutes. Also honored on Senior Day was usual starter Patrick Patterson, a junior who is expected to graduate in three years and likely will enter the NBA draft.

"I was just trying to hold back the tears," Patterson said. "I just kept looking at the fans, trying to soak it all in."

Wall, a freshman and a near-lock for the draft, joined those four in the starting lineup and had 11 points.

No. 3 UK 74

Florida 66

Florida Gators rally but lose to No. 3 Kentucky 03/07/10 [Last modified: Sunday, March 7, 2010 10:55pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Chris Archer knocked out early as Rays lose to Orioles (w/video)

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — Another short outing by Chris Archer led to another long afternoon for the Rays in a 9-4 loss to the Orioles on Sunday.

  2. Bucs-Vikings report card: Where's this explosive offense we heard about all offseason?


    O NO

    True, the Bucs defense looked pretty leaky in the 34-17 loss to the Vikings. But you know what needs to happen when the defense is getting torched? The offense needs to step up. In games such as these, with defensive players seemingly getting hurt every play, the offense needs to outscore the other …

    Minnesota Vikings cornerback Trae Waynes (26) intercepts a Jameis Winston pass intended for wide receiver DeSean Jackson (11) during the first half. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]
  3. Bucs-Vikings: Instant analysis from Tampa Bay's 34-17 loss


    MINNEAPOLIS — Here's Rick Stroud and Tom Jones' instant analysis from the Bucs' 34-17 loss at Minnesota Sunday. More to come from Rick & Tom — and Greg Auman —- from Minneapolis later today.

    Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Jarius Wright (17) dives over the pylon for a touchdown as  Bucs cornerback Ryan Smith (29) defends. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]
  4. Worst-Case scenario: Case Keenum, Vikings hand Bucs 34-17 loss


    MINNEAPOLIS — With key defensive starters out with injury, the Bucs were dominated by the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday, with fill-in quarterback Case Keenum beating Tampa Bay for the third year in a row, …

    Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston (3) is sacked by Minnesota Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen (97) during the first half. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]
  5. Bucs-Vikings: A by-the-numbers look at the Bucs' 34-17 loss


    Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive tackle Clinton McDonald (98) hits Minnesota Vikings quarterback Case Keenum (7) as he passes during the first half of an NFL game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minn., on Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017. LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times