Coming off an exhilarating win against Ole Miss on Wednesday, the Florida Gators will be looking to secure their biggest win of the season on Saturday against the Kentucky Wildcats.
The Gators enter the game sitting at 12-8 overall and 4-3 in SEC play. Their opponent, Kentucky, is 17-3 and 6-1 in the SEC. The stakes are extremely high as Florida is looking for a big-time win for their tournament résumé.
Scouting The Wildcats
Kentucky will be entering the Exactech Arena on a red hot streak as they are coming off seven straight wins.
In order for the Gators to have a chance, they will need to be firing on all cylinders when it comes to shooting and rebounding. Like Florida, Kentucky is a defensive oriented team.
They rank 2nd in the SEC in defensive efficiency, only trailing the Gators. The Wildcats are hard to beat when they are working the boards. They rank seventh in the nation in rebound margin and first in the SEC (9.2).
Who to Watch For
One of the reasons why they are so effective on the boards is because of their sophomore big man PJ Washington. He was projected to be a stereotypical ‘one-and-done’ but decided to come back to Lexington after an underwhelming freshman campaign.
His second year has been everything but underwhelming. He has produced 13.4 points, 8.3 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.2 blocks per game. Washington tends to step up when the pressure is at its highest. In the SEC/Big 12 Challenge last week against Kansas, the power forward scored 20 points and 13 rebounds.
Florida Freshman Keyontae Johnson said that boxing out and closing out will be a big point of emphasis when it comes to suppressing the production of Washington.
“He likes to crash the glass so we’re going to have to box out,” Johnson said. “He’s shooting way better so we’re going to have to close out better than we were before.”
Don’t be mistaken, however, even though Kentucky is superb at defense and rebounding, they still have guys who seem to score at ease every year. The 2018-2019 version of Kentucky’s typical one-and-done will likely be freshman Keldon Johnson.
Johnson is currently projected to be a lottery pick in the 2019 NBA draft. The guard out of Oak Hill, Virginia is leading the Wildcats in scoring at 14.4 ppg and is shooting 51.1% from the field.
How to Watch
The match-up between the Gators and Wildcats will be the talk of the college basketball world on Saturday afternoon. They are set for a nationally televised game on ESPN, with tip-off set for 4 p.m. A live radio broadcast will be available on 98.1 FM ESPN Gainesville & 850 AM WRUF.
— Gators Men’s Basketball (@GatorsMBK) January 31, 2019