GAINESVILLE — In his first game of the season, Keion Brooks scored 12 on 6-for-8 shooting and Kentucky more closely resembled its No. 10 preseason ranking by throttling Florida 76-58 Saturday.
After starting the conference season with two wins, Florida (5-3, 2-2 SEC) has lost two straight and by day’s end will sit no better than a tie for seventh in the standings. It has lost consecutive games by a combined 33 points and has lost five straight to Kentucky, which started 1-6 this season.
Brooks is the only returning scholarship player for the Wildcats who played last season, and only until last week was he medically cleared to return to competition after missing the first nine games of the season with a left leg injury.
Although he had been conditioning and participating with the team in noncontact drills, Thursday was his first full practice since the injury.
Though topping 70 points for the third straight game, the Wildcats exerted high energy on the defensive end and held Florida to 37.5% shooting (21 for 56) and scored 25 points off 16 Gators turnovers.
The Wildcats (4-6, 3-0) used a 16-4 run to start the second half after leading 35-29 at the break.
Brandon Boston and Davion Mintz each scored 13 for Kentucky and Olivier Sarr 10.
Anthony Duruji scored 15 for Florida and Tyree Appleby 10.
Kentucky has won three straight and will ready itself to play Alabama (9-3, 4-0) in an early conference matchup for the top spot in the league on Tuesday.
Kentucky: Will get a chance to further test itself on Tuesday night against Alabama in Tuscaloosa.
Florida: Hosts Ole Miss Tuesday.