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No. 13 Florida loses at No. 11 Kentucky in battle for first in SEC

Freshman guard Malik Monk drives to the basket during the second half, when he scores 30 of  his 33 to help Kentucky to a 76-66 victory over Florida, breaking a tie atop the SEC.
Freshman guard Malik Monk drives to the basket during the second half, when he scores 30 of his 33 to help Kentucky to a 76-66 victory over Florida, breaking a tie atop the SEC.
Published Feb. 26, 2017

LEXINGTON, Ky. — Florida's nine-game win streak is over thanks to one playmaker.

Not satisfied with making perimeter jumpers, Kentucky's Malik Monk drove to the basket to create numerous opportunities and found openings to feed his teammates.

The freshman guard wasn't aware until afterward of how many points he had piled up, but he knew they helped the 11th-ranked Wildcats earn their most important victory this season.

Monk scored 30 of his 33 in the second half, Bam Adebayo added 18 points and 15 rebounds and Kentucky rallied past No. 13 Florida for a 76-66 victory Saturday to take over the SEC lead.

"I didn't know about that until after the game," said Monk, who made 10 of 11 free throws and five 3-pointers along with a team-high five assists. That contribution definitely came in handy as point guard De'Aaron Fox missed the game with a knee contusion.

"I was just playing, but it was crazy," Monk added. "I was way more patient in the second half than I was in the first half."

While another week remains in conference play, the Wildcats (24-5, 14-2 SEC) took a big step toward clinching the regular-season title by twice rallying from eight down to win. They can thank Monk for making it happen as he scored 14 during an 18-10 run that tied the score at 55 with 9:54 left and seemed to have an answer for every defense UF (23-6, 13-3) used to try to contain him.

"We had a couple of options that did a good job on him in Gainesville," coach Mike White said of his team's 88-66 victory Feb. 4. "We just didn't do quite as good of a job (in Lexington), especially down the stretch."

Monk ended up with the most points in one half by a player under coach John Calipari, who was also taken aback by the outburst: "Oh, he got 30 in a half? No wonder when I got on him about a couple of bad shots, he looked at me like I was crazy."

The Wildcats outrebounded Florida 48-30 after the Gators owned the boards 54-29 in the first meeting in Gainesville. Since that game, UF has lost starting center John Egbunu to a torn ACL.

NO. 19 FSU 76, CLEMSON 64: Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton was glad to see his players smiling, laughing and celebrating a win on the road. It had not happened too often for the Seminoles in ACC play this season.

"They were very, very happy in the locker room," said a relieved Hamilton, whose team rallied after leading most of the way.

FSU (23-6, 11-5 ACC) came into Littlejohn Coliseum 2-5 on the road in league play, including consecutive losses at Notre Dame and Pittsburgh. But Xavier Rathan-Mayes hit the go-ahead basket with 1:22 left, and the Seminoles hung on.

MIAMI 55, NO. 10 DUKE 50: Bruce Brown scored 25 and the host Hurricanes (20-8, 10-6 ACC) held the Blue Devils (22-7, 10-6) 32 points below their average, handing Duke its second straight loss to an unranked team.

NO. 2 'NOVA 79, NO. 23 CREIGHTON 63: Eric Paschall scored a season-high 19 and Josh Hart added 16 to help the host Wildcats (27-3, 14-3 Big East) clinch their fourth straight regular-season conference title.

NO. 3 KANSAS 77, TEXAS 67: Josh Jackson scored 18 and Frank Mason added 16 to help the visiting Jayhawks (26-3, 14-2 Big 12) secure their 13th straight regular-season conference championship outright.

NO. 5 UCLA 77, NO. 4 ARIZONA 72: Thomas Welsh scored 12 of his 14 in the second half, and the Bruins (26-3, 13-3 Pac-12) dominated the offensive boards and snapped a 21-game home winning streak by the Wildcats (26-4, 15-2).

NO. 6 OREGON 75, STANFORD 73: Jordan Bell scored on a putback with 14 seconds left to give the visiting Ducks (26-4, 15-2 Pac-12) their second straight close win.

NO. 8 UNC 85, PITT 67: Justin Jackson scored 23, Joel Berry added 19 and the visiting Tar Heels (25-5, 13-3 ACC) clinched their 31st regular-season conference title.

IOWA ST. 72, NO. 9 BAYLOR 69: Deonte Burton had 22 points, including a crucial 3 with 1:17 left, and the host Cyclones upset the Bears (23-6, 10-6 Big 12) for their fifth straight win.

Women: USF rolls

TULSA, Okla. — Kitija Laksa made 6 of 6 3-pointers, a program first, and scored 34 as USF locked up the third seed for the AAC tournament with a 90-64 win over Tulsa. Latvia scored 27 in the second half for the Bulls (22-6, 11-4 AAC), who have the second-most wins in program history. USF's next game is at home Monday against No. 1 UConn, which has a 103-game winning streak and routed the Bulls 102-37 earlier this season.

NO. 1 UCONN 91, MEMPHIS 48: Katie Lou Samuelson had 29 points to lead the host Huskies (28-0, 15-0 AAC) to their NCAA record 103rd straight win.

NO. 4 BAYLOR 86, TEXAS TECH 48: Nina Davis scored 16, coach Kim Mulkey reached her 500th career victory and the host Bears (27-2, 16-1 Big 12) claimed their seventh straight regular-season conference title.

SCORING MARK: Washington's Kelsey Plum captured the NCAA women's all-time scoring record with a 57-point performance in an 84-77 victory over visiting Utah. Plum has 3,397 points, passing Jackie Stiles (3,393).

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