Instant recap from Florida basketball’s tough loss at Kentucky Wildcats

If someone had told you that Colin Castleton would outscore Oscar Tshiebwe 25-4 in a battle of the two best centers in the SEC, you would have thought that was a good thing for Florida’s basketball team.

The difference is that Kentucky had more players step up and outlasted Florida, 72-67, Saturday night at Rupp Arena.

Kentucky shot 45% from the field against a team that prides itself in its defense and Florida missed a late chance to tie it.

Florida is now 13-10 and 6-4 in the SEC while Kentucky improved to 16-7 and 7-3.

What happened

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Stop me if you have heard this one before – Florida has an awful start to the game, fights back to make it interesting and comes up short in the end against a quality team on the road.

That’s what happened again against Kentucky as Florida had too many bad possessions including one that ended up with [autotag]Myreon Jones[/autotag] missing a desperation three as the shot clocked was expiring with 13 seconds left and Florida down by three.

Florida fell behind by double-digits several times in both halves and the defense was not like anything we have seen in SEC play this season. The Gators stopped Tshiebwe, who was 2-for-14 before fouling out with 1:38 to play, but Florida struggled to contain the rest of the Wildcats. Kentucky was the first team in 12 games to shoot better than 40% against Florida.

It was another miserable start for the Gators, something that has been all too common this season. UF made only two of its first 15 shots and trailed 24-11.

But the Gators fought back in this one to cut the lead to 26-22 with an 8-0 run. That was the good news. The bad news was that Kentucky countered with a 7-0 run, holding Florida scoreless for the final 2:55 of the half and taking a 33-22 lead.

Kentucky had a 10-0 advantage at the half in points off turnovers.

Florida cut the lead to four points again in the second half, but had a lull with some really bad possessions and fell behind by 11 before Florida made a comeback that had a chance at the end.

But after Jones’ miss, Cason Wallace made two free throws for the final margin.

What it means

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Florida dropped a game behind Kentucky in the SEC. standings and lost a chance for a Quad 1 win on the road. The second half of the conference season did not go as Florida would have hoped to say the least. A road loss won’t hurt Florida’s NET much, but this was another lost opportunity.

Player of the Game: Kentucky

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Wallace did not play in Kentucky’s win over Ole Miss earlier in the week because of sore knees. But he exploded against the Gators for 20 points, making 7-for-10 from the field and blowing by Gator defenders more than once. He also had three rebounds.

Player of the Game: Florida

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You may be tired of hearing about Castleton, but he was a force again in this game. He finished with 25 points, eight rebounds and five assists despite multiple double teams in the post. He also blocked three shots.

Inside the numbers

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Florida is counting on its five starters for the most part and this game was no exception. But the bench gave Florida almost nothing in this one. The only five points from the bench were scored by [autotag]Kowacie Reeves[/autotag], who was 1-for-7. Meanwhile, Kentucky got 15 points from its bench.

He said it

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“We got down by as much as 14 but had a chance to tie it. We didn’t execute early in the game. We had a couple of defensive breakdowns which we haven’t had this season. And Wallace played like a lottery pick.” — [autotag]Todd Golden[/autotag]

Next up

Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

It doesn’t get any easier as the Gators play at No. 5 Alabama on Wednesday. The Tide has won all 10 of its SEC games and Alabama’s only three losses this year were to UConn, Gonzaga and Oklahoma. Alabama is 20-3 on the season after a win over LSU on Saturday. Oh, and coach Nate Oats got a six year-extension Friday.

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Story originally appeared on Gators Wire