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UK Limps to End of Regular Season, Walloped by #1 Florida

This story appears courtesy of KY Forward and is written by James Pennington. KY Forward's coverage of UK Athletics is sponsored by Republic Bank.

No. 25 Kentucky worked just as hard in a six-minute span Saturday as it had all season, taking a 21-point deficit at No. 1 Florida on its Senior Day and scoring 15 points in a row to get it all the way down to six.

But the furious comeback took every ounce of energy out of the Wildcats, and Florida just as quickly took it right back. The top-ranked Gators won 84-65, clinching an 18-0 regular-season run through the SEC and, in the progress, becoming the only team other than Kentucky to go undefeated through an SEC schedule since league expansion in 1991.

If Kentucky hadn’t dug itself a hole so deep in the first half, things surely would have ended differently. Then again, it was just as much Florida’s invincibility as much as it was anything the Wildcats were doing poorly. Florida shot 61 percent from the floor in the first half and took a 49-28 lead into the halftime locker room.

Julius Randle led the Wildcats with 16 points and 10 rebounds, his 18th double-double in 31 regular-season games. Kentucky’s 15 unanswered points over a six-minute span was impressive, and Randle was a big part of it. His three-point play gave energy and validity to the run early on, and his driving lay-up closed the gap to single digits for the first time since early in the second half. But it ultimately wasn’t enough.

Kentucky opens in the SEC tournament Friday as the No. 2 seed, finishing its season 22-9 and 12-6 in SEC play.

Photo: UK Head Coach John Calipari/KY Forward file