The Kentucky Wildcats became just the third SEC team since Alabama in 1956 to go unbeaten in the conference. All three times it was a Kentucky team, including the 1996 championship Rick Pitino team. In his third season with the Wildcats, John Calipari has taken his team into the tournament as the number one seed, with Florida as the latest victim in a 74-59 dominating win.
The biggest reason for Kentucky playing so well this season, with complete perfection ruined only by that buzzer beater against the Indiana Hoosiers? That same, over-hyped loss, according to the coach. His team would have stayed the number one seed even if they would have lost to Billy Donovan’s Gators, but pride was the main motivation, not keeping a perfect record.
Freshman Anthony Davis was even more dominant than usual, finishing with 22 points, 12 rebounds and six blocks. He’s averaging 14.4 points, 9.8 rebounds and 4.7 blocks this season, leading Kentucky into setting a new school record for regular season wins (30-1), on a program that has been waiting for its first national title since 1998. Last season they came close – the final four. This season needs to be the next step.
Florida broke down defensively, and made life very easy for the Wildcats in the paint, allowing 40 points and 52.5% from the field. The Gators were limited to only 38.2%, shooting terribly from outside, finishing with 6-22, as Patric Young led the team with 21 points and nine rebounds.
John Calipari, UK coach – I told them prior to the game, ‘Look, bottom line is if we lose we’re still a 1 seed. It doesn’t change our seeding. It doesn’t do anything. But it’s about pride.’ That was the message prior to the game: just go have pride and play. I want to thank ESPN.
They’ve done one of the greatest services for my program by having that advertisement that keeps showing Indiana beating us. Every time my team watches TV and on ESPN and they see it they shake their head. It makes them mad.
Billy Donovan, Florida Coach – The one thing I would say about them is that if you do break down defensively against them, you’re going to pay. But they also have the ability, when you guard them the way you want to guard them, they can still make a shot. I think that’s what makes really, really good teams.
Kentucky lead the SEC tournament winners with 28, including the last two seasons. Playing this kind of basketball will undoubtedly land them a 29th SEC tournament title after collecting their 45th regular season SEC title. In the national tournament? Hard to see anyone stopping them as well. Since that 1 point loss to Indiana, coming after a tough one point win against North Carolina, Kentucky have won 22 straight, only once winning by less than six points.