3 things we learned: UK 78, Florida 58

Three things we learned from UK’s 20-point victory over Florida:

1. John Calipari says defense is the most crucial characteristic of championship teams. UK has it, and it was on full display against Florida, the SEC’s best offensive team. Here’s how the Gators performed compared to their season averages:

  • Scored 58 points (averaged 80.1 per game).
  • Shot 34.9 percent (averaged 47.2 percent).
  • Made six 3-pointers (averaged a nation-leading 10.5 per game), and that was only after some makes late in the second half. The Gators started 2-for-15 from behind the arc.
  • Shot 22.2 percent on 3-pointers (averaged 40.2 percent). Its previous low was 25 percent, and it had only made less than 30 percent in a game twice.

Yes, Florida missed some open looks. But UK played its customarily tremendous defense, especially in the stretch from the middle of the first half to the middle of the second half when it took an even ballgame and stretched out a 20-point lead.

2. Which team was supposed to be the one pouring in threes? All the talk leading up to the game centered on how Florida could pull off the upset under a barrage of treys, but it was the Wildcats who hit their open looks. UK shot 60 percent on 3-pointers, and Doron Lamb had his second hot-shooting game in a row, making 4 of 5.

3. This game again showed how balanced UK is. In the first half, Anthony Davis and Terrence Jones had a combined eight points and five rebounds — and UK led a top-10 Florida team by 12 at halftime. The Cats looked shaken in the opening minutes, almost as if it had forgotten what a good SEC team that had comparable skill looked like. But, quickly enough, UK showed that the upper tier of the SEC provided as much of a challenge as the bottom rung of the league has over the first 10 games.

Not much at all.

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