Kentucky rolls into tournaments perfect in SEC
The juggernaut that is Kentucky rolled through Florida and, with its 74-59 victory, completed its third undefeated SEC season in 16 years.
If they hadn’t already, the Wildcats also likely clinched a No. 1 seed for the NCAA Tournament.
Not even a loss in their first game in the SEC tourney is going to change that.
The Wildcats will open that event by playing the winner of the first-round matchup between LSU and Arkansas in the quarterfinals.
A potential rematch with Florida, which fell to the No. 4 seed with the loss, looms in the semifinals. The Gators will play the winner of the first-round Alabama-South Carolina matchup in their quarterfinal contest.
A game against Alabama could be a tough test for the Gators, but Kentucky should not face as imposing a challenge. On their way to a 16-0 conference record, which matched the 16-0 marks of the 2002-03 and 1995-96 Kentucky teams, the Wildcats beat Arkansas by 23 points at home and LSU by 24 on the road.
The Wildcats will take a 22-game overall winning streak into the tourney with their only loss back on Dec. 7 at Indiana.
They are 30-1 for the season, the 13th time in school history the Wildcats have reached the 30-win level but the first time they have done it in the regular season.
-Freshman F Anthony Davis scored 22 points and had 19 rebounds to record his 14th double-double of the season in Kentucky’s 74-59 win at Florida.
He also blocked six shots to give him 146 for the season, No. 8 on Kentucky’s career list for blocks.
He also hit a three-pointer, his second trey in two games.
-Sophomore Terrence Jones got off to a dominating start against the Gators in scoring the first eight points of the game. He finished the first half with 14 points, the seventh time this season he has reached double-figures in the first half of a game.
He ended the afternoon with 19 points, his most productive outing since his 27 against LSU on Jan. 28.
-The Wildcats were 31-of-59 from the field (52.5 percent) against Florida, the 15th time this season they have shot 50 percent or better in a game. The Wildcats are shooting 49.0 percent for the season and 49.4 in their 16 SEC games.
Both figures lead the conference.
THIS WEEK’S GAMES
-vs. LSU-Arkansas winner, March 9, SEC Tournament, New Orleans.
KEY MATCHUPS: Kentucky dominated both of its potential foes, whipping Arkansas 86-63 in Lexington on Jan. 21 and LSU 74-50 in Baton Rouge a week later. The Razorbacks had four players score in double-figures, but only one, G Mardracus Wade, with as many as 12 points. Freshman F Johnny O’Bryant was LSU’s leading scorer, also with just 12 points.
The Wildcats are looking at a potential rematch with Florida in the SEC tourney semifinals if both teams win their quarterfinal matchups. Kentucky is going for a third consecutive SEC tourney title, having swept the last two events in Nashville and Atlanta. The Wildcats have won the event 15 times since it was resumed in 1979, though they had to vacate the 1988 title because of NCAA violations. Overall, including the tourneys played from 1933 through 1952, the Wildcats have won 27 titles.
-Sophomore G Doron Lamb extended his streak of games with a three-pointer to 13 by going 1-of-3 against Florida.
-Freshman G Marquis Teague had only four assists but was averaging six an outing over his last six games. He also scored 12 points.
-Freshman F Michael Kidd-Gilchrist had eight rebounds against Florida, the 10th time in 11 games he has had at least seven.
QUOTE TO NOTE
“The biggest thing is, we had not had any duds, and normally, you go through a season, you’re going to have two or three duds. And you hope they are against teams you can win anyway.” — Coach John Calipari, on one of the keys to Kentucky’s run through the season.