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Gators pull out rare basketball victory at Kentucky

Florida wins its third straight, prevailing in an arena where it now has an overall record of 11-52.
Florida's Anthony Duruji gets past Kentucky's Keion Brooks Jr., left, and Devin Askew for a dunk.
Florida's Anthony Duruji gets past Kentucky's Keion Brooks Jr., left, and Devin Askew for a dunk. [ JAMES CRISP | AP ]
Published Feb. 28
Updated Feb. 28

LEXINGTON, Ky. — Tre Mann scored 14 of his 21 points in the second half and Florida pulled out a 71-67 victory over Kentucky on Saturday, winning its third straight game and avenging a blowout loss to the Wildcats.

Tyree Appleby’s wide-open 3-pointer with 31/2 minutes remaining put the Gators (13-6, 9-5 SEC) ahead for good at 65-63 in a game that had 14 lead changes and nine ties, the vast majority coming in the second half when neither team led by more than four. Neither team scored again until Mann’s baseline jumper with 1:49 to go. The Wildcats cut the lead to two twice after that but two free throws by Mann with 10.5 seconds remaining sealed the win.

Florida, which lost to Kentucky 76-58 on Jan. 9, picked up the fifth season split in the series’ history, the last coming in 1998. UF is 11-52 in Lexington.

“A win at Rupp Arena, under any circumstance, is a neat thing,” said Gators coach Mike White. “To win on the road in the SEC is hard, but this place is really different and Kentucky had been playing very, very well.”

Colin Castleton scored 14, Appleby added 11 and Anthony Duruji 10 for the Gators, who shot 53 percent and made 7 of 15 3-pointers. That helped them to overcome a big disparity at the free-throw line where they made 14 of 16 and Kentucky made 25 of 29.

With Tennessee losing at Auburn and LSU losing at Arkansas, the Gators moved into sole possession of third place in the conference. UF’s next opponent, Missouri at home Wednesday, had its Saturday home game against Texas A&M scratched due to Aggies COVID-19 protocols.

Kentucky (8-14, 7-8) had a 10-point lead midway through the first half after an 8-0 run, gave up the lead, then reclaimed a 39-38 edge at halftime following baskets by Keion Brooks and Davion Mintz.

Mintz tied a career high with 21 points for Kentucky, which had a three-game win streak snapped.