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Question of the Day
LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) - Florida had the same plan when it was trailing and when it pulled ahead. The third-ranked Gators just wanted to maintain their composure.
That steady approach turned into a big win at one of college basketball’s most hostile venues.
Scottie Wilbekin scored 23 points, including five critical free throws down the stretch, and Florida rallied for a tense 69-59 victory over No. 14 Kentucky on Saturday night in a matchup of the Southeastern Conference’s top teams.
“It was just one of those games where you have to kind of stay the course,” Gators coach Billy Donovan said.
Casey Prather had 24 points on 8-of-9 shooting as Florida tied a school record with its 17th straight win.
Trailing 45-38 with 11:12 remaining, the veteran Gators (23-2, 12-0) turned to their best players down the stretch of their first victory at Rupp Arena since 2007. Wilbekin went 11 of 12 at the line, including two free throws after Kentucky coach John Calipari was whistled for a technical with 8:14 left.
“I feel like I’m always confident,” said Wilbekin, who was 5 of 10 from the field. “When the ball’s in my hands, I feel like I have to make a play. I try to get to the basket or get the best shot for our team.”
Patric Young added 10 points, including two three-point plays during a 13-3 spurt that put the Gators ahead for good.
Florida shot 60 percent in the second half and 44 percent (22 of 50) overall while controlling every major statistic except rebounding.
“I don’t know what he heard me say with my back to him, so you have to ask him,” Calipari said.
Andrew Harrison scored 20 points for Kentucky (19-6, 9-3), which had won 22 consecutive home games.
Prather’s three-point play with 38 seconds remaining helped complete Florida’s rare road sweep of Kentucky and Tennessee in the same week.
Kentucky outrebounded Florida 31-28 but couldn’t grab an errant shot at the biggest moments, especially on the offensive end. The Gators took advantage for a 12-8 edge in second-chance points and basically controlled the paint, outscoring the Wildcats 34-22.
James Young added 19 points for the Wildcats, who shot 48 percent but didn’t score in the final 1:55. Julius Randle had 13 points and 13 rebounds.
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