One down, eight to go.

Kentucky forward Karl-Anthony Towns fights to get to the rim during the second half of the third round of the SEC tournament in Nashville, Tenn., on Friday, March 13, 2015. Photo by Jonathan Krueger

By Joshua Huff

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Familiarity does not breed success, a statement that Florida learned on Friday as Karl-Anthony Towns continued his dominance over the Gators in UK’s 64-49 win in the third round of the SEC Tournament.

The loss sends Florida home with the prospect of an NIT bid awaiting them, while UK awaits the winner of Auburn and LSU. The last time UK swept Florida, it went on to win the national championship back in 2012.

Much like the previous two matchups, Florida held its own against UK. At one point, the Gators shoot 65 percent from the field and dominated the paint as they took a 17-14 lead. But, behind the inside presence of Towns, Willie Cauley-Stein and Andrew and Aaron Harrison, UK chipped away and took a 31-27 lead into halftime. A lead it would not relinquish.

“We didn’t play with as much energy as Florida to start the game,” a tired UK coach John Calipari said. “They came in … and I told them at halftime, ‘if that’s what we have in store, if that’s how we’re going to do this, we’re going to have some problems.’’

UK’s players received the message, pulling away from a determined Florida team that had everything to lose. A free throw by Florida’s Devin Robinson with 7:40 left in the second half pulled the Gators to within five points, but ten-consecutive points from Towns and Trey Lyles put UK ahead by 12, ending any and all hope for Florida.

“I thought in the later part of the game we found the combination of Andrew, Aaron, Tyler (Ulis), Trey, Karl and Dakari Johnson and that’s what we did,” Calipari said. “That’s the advantage we have. We juggle around till we figure out who’s playing well and we’ll ride with those guys.”

Towns had his team-leading seventh double-double of the season after he scored 13 points with 12 rebounds. It was the play of the defense and the willpower of the Cats in the latter part of the game, however, that determined the outcome.

“They have the will to win,” Calipari said. “We have enough playmaking kind of players, from Andrew to Aaron, to Karl and to Trey, I think Tyler, we have a lot of guys who aren’t afraid to make the play. To be those kind of players you cannot be afraid to make the game-winning play. And none of those kids are.”

The biggest question for teams preparing to face UK will be its mentality in the last 10 minutes, as Devin Booker said when he when mentioned that teams can play with UK for 30 minutes, but struggle in the last 10.

However, for Towns and the rest of the Cats, all that matters is the next game, be it against Auburn or a physically demanding LSU team.

“For us we just worry about the next game,” Towns said. “We just worry about what we can do to contribute to the game and for each other. Also, just make sure we do everything we can to not only contribute, but to help (win).”