Florida guard Kiara Smith (1) calls out the play during an NCAA basketball game against Cincinnati on Saturday, Dec. 5, 2020, in Gainesville, Fla. (AP Photo/Gary McCullough)

UF Women’s Hoops Advances in SEC Tournament, Will Face Kentucky

The Florida women’s basketball team advances in the SEC Tournament after defeating the Auburn Tigers 69-62. They will now face the Kentucky Wildcats in day two of the tournament.

Gators vs Wildcats Preview

As Florida advances in the SEC tournament, they prepare to face a tough-to-beat Kentucky. The Wildcats earned the No. 5 seed in the tournament after finishing (9-6) in conference play.

The Wildcats are averaging 73.4 points per game this season, making 43.3 percent from the field and 34.6 percent from the three. They are limiting their opponents to an average of 65.3 points per game.

On the other hand, the Gators are averaging 73.3 points per game while allowing their opponents to score an average of 70 points.

Florida is averaging 27.1 from the field goal range while shooting .316 from behind the arch.

Florida Guard Kiki Smith drives past Kentucky Gurad. (photo courtesy of Florida Gators Women’s Basketball Instagram)

The last time the Gators beat Kentucky was last season after a thrilling 70-62 win over the Wildcats.

Kentucky entered the court that day without eventually SEC Player of the Year Rhyne Howard. This time, now two-time SEC Player of the Year, Howard, will be a part of this matchup.

Howard is the only Power Five Conference player averaging 19 points per game with 7.5 rebounds per game.

Another Kentucky athlete to watch out for is senior Chasity Patterson who was named to the SEC All-Defensive Team earlier this week. She is also a semifinalist for the Naismith Women’s Defensive Player of the Year award.

Florida has two players averaging double-digit scoring. Sophomore Lavender Briggs and senior Kiki Smith are averaging 19.5 and 18.4 points per game respectively. But a foot injury ended Briggs’s season a few weeks ago.

Kentucky leads the all-time series against Florida, 33-26, including a 5-3 mark in neutral-site games. The Wildcats are 6-2 all-time against Florida in the SEC Tournament.

Gators vs Auburn Recap

The game was kept close as it featured seven led changes and five ties. In addition, both teams led for over 10 minutes at some point.

After leading only by one at halftime, the Gators got an 18-point advantage fueled by a 13-0 run. Auburn returned the favor in the fourth quarter as they went on an 11-0 run.

But Kristina Moore drilled a three that would tie the game and lead to another three-pointer by teammate Danielle Rainey.

After this, the Gators never trailed again.

Smith leads the Gators

Florida advances to round two of the tournament and most of the credit can be given to an athlete that has shined throughout the whole season.

Maryland native, Smith, led the way for the Gators once again. She scored 19 points, five rebounds and four assists.

Smith is now part of the 1,000 points club as she became the 26th Florida player to score one thousand points during her collegiate career.

https://twitter.com/GatorsWBK/status/1367239232889253899

In addition to reaching this milestone, she also scored double digits for the 22nd time. That makes it 22 out of 23 games in the doubled digits for Smith.

The 5’10” senior said that she was proud of her team efforts and also commented on her milestone.

“I had no idea that I was that close to a thousand. After the game my teammates are the ones who told me. It feels good. The win is just added on top of that. It’s a good day for us. I’m really proud of our team. We had some big-time shots exactly when we needed them. Between everybody else, Jordyn’s (Merritt) charge at crunch time, everybody stepped up. It was a great day.”

About Camila Maffuz

Camila is a senior at the University of Florida, who served as a beat writer for the women's basketball team from 2019 until the 2021 season. She was also a beat writer for the Gators football team during the 2020 season. Camila is also WUFT's news director as well as a sports reporter/anchor.

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