UK’s Tallest Task of the Season — a Road Game at Florida — May Have Gotten a Little Shorter
As the Kentucky Wildcats struggled through the first three-fifths of this season, fans were keeping a wary eye on February 12th, 2013. That's the day of the first of two meetings with the 7th-ranked Florida Gators.
Florida has been playing extraordinarily good basketball and I even picked them, a few weeks ago, to win the National Championship. Yeah, my pre-season prediction was Louisville, but the Cardinals have become a little too unpredictable for a team as experienced as they are.
But now, I'm not so sure about the Gators, either. Florida actually could be the #1 team in the country today if not for an inexplicably pedestrian performance at Arkansas last Tuesday. They were ranked second when they went into Fayetteville and got demolished. Yeah, they lost by 11 but trailed, at one point, by 27. Prior to that game, the Gators were beating conference opponents by an average of 26.5 points per game.
All the while, Kentucky was taking longer than usual to round into form and losing at home (to Texas A&M) and on the road (to Alabama) and leaving Big Blue Nation to wonder just how badly Florida was going to rip 'em up on that second Tuesday in February.
Well, since those struggles, the 'Cats have won 5 in a row (including a couple of road wins--one a revenge game against Texas A&M) and the Gators have lost the services of sixth man Will Yeguete, a forward who averages 6 points and 6.3 rebounds per game. Obviously, Florida would love to have the young man healthy--he had knee surgery--but it's not really a deal-breaker in terms of doing serious damage to its chances of winning a home game in Gainesville.
Sure, there's the thinking that maybe the Gators had been so dominant because they had a full complement of players and with a missing cog could be less so. Who knows? But I do believe Kentucky has improved and has a better chance to beat Florida now than at any other point in the season.
Do I think they will? No.
Florida has talented upperclassmen and, with that one notable exception, has been winning by huge margins of victory and looking nearly flawless doing it.
And while Kentucky has seemed to play better on the road, this season, than at home, I gotta like the Gators in this one.
PREDICTION: Florida 70 Kentucky 62