Basketball

MBB: Gators blow 18-point, second half lead against Kentucky

Final: Kentucky 71, Florida 70

Photo by Michael Reaves / Getty Images

Stop me if you’ve heard this before: Florida dominated Kentucky for the first thirty minutes of Saturday afternoon’s matchup.

Despite facing heavy criticism from Florida fans, the value of Kerry Blackshear might have been proven.

Blackshear left the game after a brief appearance to open the second half. Unfortunately, Kentucky made up the difference on the offensive glass, including the winning basket off a putback by EJ Montgomery.

How It Happened:

The Gators opened the scoring just twenty seconds into the game and managed a 7-0 lead with 18:20 left in the first half, forcing a Kentucky timeout.

The Wildcats would get to within two at 11-9 with 13:18 left, but Florida would stretch the lead to 20-9 just three plus minutes later.

By half, the Gators were on top 40-30, but Florida missed on a pair of opportunities at the end of the half that proved costly in the final minutes. Tre Mann whiffed on a dunk and just before the buzzer, Keyontae Johnson missed a layup.

Kentucky opened the second half with the first five points, closing the gap to five at 40-35, but Florida went on a 17-4 run that put Florida on top 57-39 with 11:55 to play.

What happened next has become so typical of this Gators basketball team.

Florida was outscored 32-12 over the rest of the game to secure an embarrassing finish to the regular season.

The Wildcats finished with 14 offensive rebounds, recording 10 of those in the second half. Twenty-one of UK’s points came off those offensive boards, including the final basket.

The Gators spoiled a career high 19 points from freshman Scottie Lewis as well as 14 from sophomore Noah Locke.

Individual Stats:

  • Lewis: 19 points, 5-8 FG, 8-10 FT
  • Locke: 14 points, 3-8 3FG
  • Johnson: 12 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists
  • Nembhard: 7 points, 8 assists, 5 rebounds, 1 turnover

Team Stats:

  • FG% : 52
  • 3FG% : 50
  • FT% : 76
  • Reb+/- : -8
  • Assists : 13
  • Turnovers : 10
  • Bench Points: 18

What’s Next:

This concludes the regular season. Florida had a chance to clinch a double-bye in the SEC Tournament, but the loss and a win by Auburn forces the Gators to play Thursday.

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