Cats thwart Gators’ upset attempt with strong performance from Ulis

Anthony Crawford

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No. 22 UK men’s basketball was able to survive the upset bid by Florida on the road Tuesday night. The Cats were able to build an early lead in the first half before the Gators stormed back to make it a four-point game at the half. UK would pull away in the second half and end up winning 88-79.

MVP: Tyler Ulis

Sophomore point guard Tyler Ulis had poor game in the road loss to Vanderbilt and his lack of production was noticeable in how the team played. He was able to return to form against the Gators, tallying his seventh double-double with 17 points and 11 assists.

Game defining moment: 14-4 run by Florida to close out the second half

With 6:41 remaining in the first half, UK reached its largest lead of the game of 14 points off a Alex Poythress layup. From that point, UK would struggle scoring and protecting the ball coming away with three turnovers in the closing minutes of the half.

The Gators would capitalize and close the gap to just four points. UK is no stranger to giving up big runs at the end of first halves with the same issues occurring in UK’s losses to Tennessee, Auburn, Texas A&M and Vanderbilt. Being able to overcome the letup to end the half is a good sign as the postseason approaches for UK.

Trending up: Ulis’ shot returns

In the past two games, Ulis had really struggled with shooting, especially from behind the arc. He was 0-for-10 from three in the Cats’ last two games and the team really missed his shooting. However, he was able to turn it around in the game against the Gators going 2-for-3 from deep.

Trending down: The Cats’ interior defense

The Cats were able to come away with a win by a fairly comfortable margin, but when the Gators were threatening the Cats in the game it was from the inside. Florida center John Egbunu especially had a good game going off for 27 points.

What is most worrisome about that statline is the fact that he went 12-for-15 with a lot of his shots being uncontested dunks. The Cats will need to tighten up for their matchup this weekend against LSU.

Stat of the game: 8 Rebounds for Skal Labissiere

Freshman Skal Labissiere has slowly worked his way up from the disappointing play that saw him lose his starting spot in the lineup. With most of his troubles coming with being tough on the inside, he took a big stride coming up with 11 points and eight rebounds against the Gators.

His career-high prior to this game was just seven rebounds and he had only recorded that many twice. If Labissiere can keep up this effort on the glass then head coach John Calipari can not worry about leaving in him for extended minutes.