There’s something refreshing to see about a lineup without any freshmen schooling the Freshmen group that John Calipari put together and this time probably won’t take him all the way. The Florida Gators have real team under Billy Donovan, and not just a bunch of talented individuals.
It was clear from the first moment at the O-Zone who was the better coached, better prepared team. The Kentucky players (3 freshmen in the lineup) just didn’t show up with the right kind of mindset to push them through the kind of intense basketball and atmosphere they had waiting for them against Florida, coming out losing 52-69, bruised in more than one way.
On the other side of the ball, the best team in the SEC put the loss to Arkansas well behind them, and simply went back to business. Great defense and smart offense, that kept finding an open man around the edges, as Kentucky first defended without discipline by coming to help Noel in the middle at every opportunity, and later it just seemed like the Wildcats’ players gave up on the game.
While Nerlens Noel usually draws most of the interest in any place he goes to (finished with 8 points, 6 rebounds and 3 blocks), and this time the ending was also about him after going down with a knee injury. Still, the big man who deserved most of the praise (and got it from both head coaches) was Patric Young, who grabbed 11 rebounds, to go with his 12 points and 4 blocks. John Calipari isn’t used to handing out compliments to teams who just beat him, but there weren’t many excuses to hide behind this time.
They’re an outstanding basketball team. They were last year. They are this year. They’re well coached, they’re talented, they’re very physical. Their guards are just jerking balls out of our guys’ hands. We couldn’t get near the basket on Young. He just physically took away the rim. And they’re very active.
Billy Donovan, as expected, was more than pleased with the Junior’s effort and performance.
When he gives incredible effort and plays with a really good motor, he’s capable of getting double-doubles every night. He rebounded. He made great effort plays, kept balls alive. He did a really good job.
The Gators had five players in double figures, with Scottie Wilbekin leading the way, scoring 14 points as the Gators enjoyed a very good day from the floor, shooting 49.1% from the field and 42.1% from beyond the arc. Another player worth mentioning is Casey Prather, who is getting a chance to step up for the injured Will Yeguete. Prather scored 12 points for the second consecutive game, and the Gators are going to need the same kind of production from him to hold off the Wildcats in the SEC, and do more than just make the NCAA tournament.
It, stepping in for Yeguete, wasn’t really in the back of my mind. I would just say I was trying to give the team a big boost, big energy boost, and so I was just glad to help the team out any way I could.