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No. 22 Kentucky defeats Florida 88-79

2531 days ago
Associated Press

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Jamal Murray scored 21 points, Tyler Ulis added 19 and No. 22 Kentucky beat Florida 88-79 on Tuesday night, handing the Gators a fourth consecutive loss.

Skal Labissiere made the most of his first start since Dec. 12, chipping in 11 points and eight rebounds for the Wildcats.

Kentucky had no answer inside for John Egbunu, who finished with nine dunks and a career-high 27 points, but the Cats more than made up for it by hitting 7 of 10 shots from 3-point range.

They hit all five shots from behind the arc in the decisive second half.

Murray came up huge once again, draining three consecutive 3s as Kentucky pushed its lead to 64-51. Marcus Lee followed with a dunk that put coach John Calipari's team up big for good with 6:32 remaining.

The Wildcats (22-8, 12-5 Southeastern Conference) squandered a 14-point lead late in the first half, and Florida (17-13, 8-9) could have been in front at the break if not for missing 10 free throws in the first 20 minutes. The Gators ended up 16 of 37 from the line.

Egbunu was Florida's lone bright spot. He made 12 of 15 shots in the paint.

It wasn't nearly enough since the Gators struggled at just about every other position.

Florida's guards really floundered. Chris Chiozza, Kasey Hill and KeVaughn Allen were 9-of-33 shooting combined, continuing a recent trend. The trio was also exposed in the previous meeting in Lexington.

Murray (35 points) and Ulis (18 points, 11 assists) were mostly unstoppable in that one, a 19-point victory last month.

Neither had to do as much Tuesday night as Kentucky enjoyed a much more balanced attack.

Isaiah Briscoe (13 points) and Alex Poythress (12) also reached double figures.

Dorian Finney-Smith had 15 points on 5-of-12 shooting in his final home game. The fifth-year senior was one of two players honored before the game. He walked to center court with his mother, brother and daughter, and got a framed jersey and a standing ovation.

But the night belonged to the Wildcats, who won their fifth straight in the series.

Labissiere was the biggest surprise. The 6-foot-11 freshman, who was projected to be a top-five pick in the NBA draft, hadn't reached double figures since late January. But his post moves seemed to catch the Gators off guard.

He had three of Kentucky's first six baskets, opening things up for Murray and Ulis.

Murray added eight rebounds and four assists. Ulis added 11 assists and four rebounds.

It might have been a costly loss for Florida, which is squarely on the NCAA Tournament bubble after faltering down the stretch.

It also was a disappointing end for fans hoping to a victory in the final game in the O'Connell Center before the 35-year-old facility gets a $65 million renovation.



Kentucky: Shot 52.7 percent from the field and were plus-10 in rebounding. ... Made 23 of 32 from the free throw line.

Florida: Turned the ball over just five times. ... Had two stoppages for items thrown on the court, including one for a sign that came out of the student section and read "I'm not wearing pants."


Kentucky hosts LSU on Saturday.

Florida plays at Missouri on Saturday.