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Kentucky-Florida Preview

AP - Sports
Kentucky-Florida Preview
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Florida coach Billy Donovan whistles to his team during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against LSU on Saturday, March 1, 2014 in Gainesville, Fla. Florida won 79-61. (AP Photo/Phil Sandlin)

Kentucky has compiled a perfect regular-season SEC record 15 times in its illustrious history.

Florida is a win away from going undefeated in SEC play for the program's first time and achieve something no Kentucky team has ever accomplished.

In the final home game for what will go down as one of the best senior classes in school history, the top-ranked Gators look to become the first team to go 18-0 in the SEC as they face the 25th-ranked Wildcats on Saturday.

Florida (28-2, 17-0) is not only riding a school-record 22-game win streak, but also a 32-game home win streak, and is projected to be a No. 1 seed for the NCAA tournament. Although the team has already wrapped the SEC crown and has its sights set on much bigger goals, it's unlikely to overlook its regular-season finale.

This is the 29th season the SEC has used an 18-game schedule, and the Gators have a chance to become the first team to run the table.

''We're trying to make this the best year possible with this team we have, with this team that will never be together again ever,'' Florida center Patric Young said.

The Wildcats did go 16-0 in league play during their 2011-12 championship season and would love to keep the Gators from entering the record books and ruin their senior day. The last SEC team not named Kentucky to go undefeated in conference play was Alabama in 1956.

"They're the No. 1 team," Wildcats forward Willie Cauley-Stein said. "We're searching for a big win, and it would definitely be a big win if we could pull it off."

Kentucky (22-8, 12-5) is hoping to take advantage of what will surely be an emotional day for the nucleus of Billy Donovan's team. Before the game, the Gators will honor seniors Young, Casey Prather, Scottie Wilbekin and Will Yeguete. The four have won three SEC championships and account for 72.0 percent of Florida's scoring.

''It's going to be an emotional thing for them,'' Donovan said. ''I'm not downplaying it. These kids have meant an enormous amount for our program. ... They're going to be honored before the game. But once that's over with, they have to get back to be ready to play.''

Kentucky is trying to avenge a 69-59 loss to Florida on Feb. 15, which snapped a 22-game win streak in Lexington. The Gators outscored the Wildcats 31-14 over the last 10:41, and are trying to sweep the regular-season series from Kentucky for the first time since their 2006-07 national championship season.

Wilbekin, the front-runner to be the SEC's Player of the Year, had 23 points, including five critical free throws down the stretch, while Prather scored 24 on 8-of-9 shooting.

The two combined for nine points at South Carolina on Tuesday, but sophomore Michael Frazier II picked up the scoring slack as Florida rolled to a 72-46 win. Frazier, who starts alongside the four seniors, set a school and SEC record with 11 3-pointers en route to a career-high 37 points.

Kentucky enters with a renewed confidence after beating Alabama 55-48 on Tuesday to clinch second place in the conference following back-to-back losses to Arkansas and the Gamecocks.

''We felt like we just needed to get back on that path of just winning,'' center Dakari Johnson said. ''Hopefully, we can just carry it on.''

It was hardly a thing of beauty, however, as the Wildcats shot 32.7 percent and made 5 of 28 3-pointers. Over the last three games, Andrew Harrison (13.6 ppg) is shooting 22.2 percent while James Young (14.4 ppg) is at 25.7.

Harrison had a team-high 20 points against the Gators last month and star freshman Julius Randle had 13 points and 13 rebounds.

"It will be a hard game for us," John Calipari said of facing Florida. "But it's a great game for us. It's exactly what this team needs."

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