Cats close regular season with double-digit loss


Shai Gilgeous-Alexander #22 of the Kentucky Wildcats lets #11 Chris Chiozza of the Florida Gators by him during the game against Florida Saturday, January 20, 2018 in Lexington, Ky. Florida defeated Kentucky 66-64. Photo by Carter Gossett | Staff

UK basketball had its four-game win streak halted Saturday afternoon by the hot-shooting Florida Gators when they traveled to Gainesville, Florida. The Cats lost the rematch 67-80.

From the beginning of the game, the Gators couldn’t seem to miss. Florida guard Jalen Hudson picked up 17 first-half points on 6-9 shooting, while UK’s entire team had just 33 points in the half. As a team, Florida shot a blistering 56.3 percent from the floor and 46.2 percent from deep in the first period, and the Gators couldn’t be stopped by the Cats.

The score was tight until halfway through the first half, when the Gators caught fire and went on a 14-3 run to take an 11-point lead after the score was tied 14-14. Florida held a double-digit lead for most of the half, ending the period with a 15-point lead.

The Cats struggled with perimeter defense, allowing the Gators to make ten three-pointers for 30 of their 80 points in the game.

On Florida’s Senior Day, their seniors showed out in full force. Chris Chiozza and Egor Koulechov combined for 25 points, six rebounds and four assists. Chiozza also became Florida’s all-time assists leader with his third assist halfway through the second half.

In the second half, the game seemed to still belong to the Gators for the first few minutes. They built up a 23-point advantage at the Cats, forcing talented rebounders P.J. Washington and Jarred Vanderbilt into foul trouble.

Team foul issues and shooting struggles for the Gators, however, let UK bring the lead back within single digits after a few short runs over the course of seven minutes in the second half. Florida played conservatively with the lead, and was letting UK stall them on offense.

After the lead got down to nine, the Gators never let it dip into single digits again as they tore the game open again with a 7-0 run to put the Cats away.

Although it’s a small and moral victory for UK, their offensive balance was present in this game like it has been in the past. Four Cats scored in double figures, including 17 from Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.

UK finishes the regular season 21-10 (10-8) and is now half a game behind Arkansas for fourth in the conference. With a Razorback loss, the Cats get a double-bye in the SEC Tournament. With a Razorback win, UK only gets a one-round bye.