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No. 13 Florida Gators lose 76-68 at No. 22 Kentucky Wildcats, ending six-game winning streak

Kenny Boynton scores over Kentucky’s DeAndre Liggins in 
the first half, when Florida kept it close before faltering.

Associated Press

Kenny Boynton scores over Kentucky’s DeAndre Liggins in the first half, when Florida kept it close before faltering.

LEXINGTON, Ky. — With less than two days to prepare to try to end a winning streak spanning almost two years, Florida focused on Kentucky's biggest players.

Terrence Jones and Brandon Knight rank among the top five scorers in SEC play.

But it wasn't the two freshmen who hurt the No. 13 Gators. Instead, Darius Miller, the Wildcats' fourth-leading scorer, had a career-high 24 points to lead No. 22 Kentucky to a 76-68 win at Rupp Arena on Saturday.

"I think he's one of the most complete players in the league," Florida coach Billy Donovan said. "For whatever reason, he has not necessarily played that way on the road this year. He's played that way at home."

Miller helped Kentucky (20-8, 8-6 SEC) end Florida's six-game winning streak and extend its own home streak to 33 games. The win also gave UK coach John Calipari 500 for his career.

It came, mostly, with the improved play of Wildcats players who didn't hurt the Gators (22-6, 11-3) in Gainesville.

Knight and Jones combined for 42 points in the Gators' win this month, but no other player reached double figures. Saturday, Florida contained the two biggest threats but watched as Josh Harrellson had 12 rebounds, Doron Lamb scored 14 and DeAndre Liggins came off the bench to score eight.

"Last time we played them, Harrellson and Miller, and even Liggins and Lamb, those guys really didn't do too much," Donovan said.

Florida trailed 34-33 at halftime but came out flat in the second half and got down 39-33. But the Gators responded with an 8-2 run to tie the score at 41.

As Kentucky began to pull away midway through the second half, Florida failed to make easy shots that would have kept it closer. On three possessions, UF missed four shots and fouled as Kentucky pulled ahead 58-49.

"Our frontcourt just couldn't quite finish around the basket," Donovan said.

Florida trailed by as many as 12 in the final two minutes.

The difference was on-ball defense, senior forward Chandler Parsons said.

"It was just all about getting stops, and we didn't get enough," he said. "We weren't determined enough to guard the ball … Miller, Liggins, Jones, those guys were just driving right by our guys."

Kentucky shot 51.7 percent for the game and outscored the Gators 36-26 in the paint.

Kenny Boynton had 21 points, making 5 of 9 3-pointers, to lead Florida. Parsons had 15 points, eight rebounds, seven assists and one turnover. Erving Walker and Vernon Macklin each scored 10.

The Gators have already clinched the No. 1 seed from the East but will claim the division title with a win in either of their last two games. Florida hosts Alabama on Tuesday and visits No. 18 Vanderbilt on Saturday.

"If we play like we did (Saturday night), we're not going to win Tuesday night, either," Parsons said. "So we just gotta worry about ourselves and our team."

No. 22 UK 76

No. 13 UF 68

No. 13 Florida Gators lose 76-68 at No. 22 Kentucky Wildcats, ending six-game winning streak 02/26/11 [Last modified: Saturday, February 26, 2011 10:50pm]
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