LEXINGTON – February 4, 2023 – Michael Willis
The Kentucky Wildcats took the floor in Rupp Arena tonight to face the Florida Gators. Both teams held a 6-3 SEC record heading into the game which meant that winning the game would move either team into a tie for fourth in the SEC standings. It was evident that the game meant a lot to both of the teams, but the Wildcats wanted it slightly more leading the entirety of the game, winning 72 to 67.
The Cats knew that offensive production was a priority in tonight’s game and would need to take advantage with their guard play to win the game. The Gator’s defense held their previous opponent, Tennessee, to only 54 points and held the Vols to 27% from the field. Even though the game started slowly for the Wildcats, Kentucky was able to end the game shooting 45% from the field and the same from beyond the arc.
The opening four minutes of the game was fast pace that included a lob from CJ Fredrick to Oscar Tshiebwe followed by a three-pointer by Fredrick. The offense slowed for both teams as the Cats took a 10 to 7 lead with 11:11 left in the first half. Kentucky managed to gain a 11 to 20 lead taking advantage of the gators not scoring a field goal for 7:30. However, Florida decided that it was time to play and making four field goals in a row while holding the Wildcats scoreless for 3 minutes. Kentucky kicked it into gear the last 2 minutes of the second half ending it on a 7-0 run and finishing the half with a 33 to 22 lead.
The Cats struggled offensively in the opening minutes of the second half making only 2 of their first 6 shots, but made 11 of their next 13 shots to push back ahead of the Gators by 14 with 8 minutes left in the game. Florida made one last push to overtake the Wildcats going on a 11 to 2 run to pull back within five near the closing of the game and another late three that made it a one possession game. Cason Wallace and Damion Collins knocked down free-throws to give the Cats the victory 72 to 67.
Cason Wallace led the Wildcats in scoring with 20 points and made all 5 of his free-throw attempts. Jacob Toppin gained a double-double with 17 points and 10 rebounds. Oscar Tshiebwe struggled tonight making only 2 of his 14 shot attempts, but managed to grab 15 rebounds.
The Wildcats will be in action on Tuesday night versus the Arkansas Razorbacks in another late night matchup with a 9 pm tipoff.
Florida v. Kentucky
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