If there was any doubt as to who the best college basketball team in the country was, there isn't anymore after the Kentucky Wildcats ran the seventh-ranked Florida Gators out of Rupp Arena Tuesday night in a 78-58 rout. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist had a double-double with 13 points and 13 rebounds, but the Wildcats used another balanced attack in overcoming a not-so-quick start against the Florida pressure defense. Doron Lamb had another impressive outing in leading UK with 18 points while Anthony Davis scored 16 and Marquis Teague had 12 points to go along with 10 assists-the first double-double of his career and a watershed game for the often-maligned Wildcat point guard.
UK didn't come out of the gate firing on all cylinders as they had been recently, but Florida's 6-0 lead was quickly erased with a 9-0 run. The Gators' final lead came with 11:25 to go in the first half, but Kentucky outscored Florida 25-13 over the remaining first half to take a commanding 38-26 lead. Florida scored the first four points of the second half and forced UK to call time less than a minute into the second frame, but Kentucky came out of the timeout and went on an 11-0 run to take a 49-30 lead and the game was never in doubt after that.
Much was made about this game being the first real test for the Cats in several weeks, but they proved they were more than up for the challenge, and frankly won easier than even I thought they would. The Florida team that UK just beat by 20 is a damned good basketball team...yet UK made them look bad, to Kentucky's credit. Kentucky's defense was simply outstanding-as it has been all season, but especially the last month. Kentucky's last five opponents have all shot 40% or less-that is an amazing statistic! Yet again, Anthony Davis had 4 blocks-and we all know he is a difference maker in the paint, but with that said, Florida came in as a terrific three point shooting team, yet Kentucky's defense held them to 22% on 6-of-27 shooting. It's often said defense wins championships, and this team plays the best defense of any team I have seen in recent memory.
While UK has gotten its fair share of attention all season, its fair to say the talking heads at ESPN and elsewhere are now looking at Kentucky as the favorites to win the national title. At the same time, Davis is garnering significant attention as the leading Player of the Year candidate. I think we all knew this Kentucky team would be really good, but I'm seriously starting to wonder if they will lose again-they are that good. Someone is going to have to score 70 to beat them, and I'm not sure that's going to happen unless someone gets insanely hot from behind the arc.
While I don't want to get too giddy, its hard to overstate what Tuesday's smack down of the Gators really says. Florida is a legitimate top 10 team-and they were simply no match for the Wildcats. In fact, there was probably no one watching who thought Florida stood a chance to win over the final 30 minutes of the game-it was that much of a mismatch.
Vanderbilt is waiting in the seriously moronic setup that is Memorial Gymnasium. The bench set up there is the worst in college basketball and shouldn't be allowed, and the raised floor is an injury waiting to happen. Beyond that, the folks at Vanderbilt really think their team is pretty good, but they have underachieved significantly this season. A win over the #1 team in the land would be a huge boost in the arm for the Commodores, but I don't think that will happen.
Kentucky is the best team in the nation-and they will prove it again in Nashville.go back