Florida Gators

Florida Gators Basketball Looks to Stay Hot Against Kentucky

The Florida Gators men’s basketball team (13-9, 6-3 SEC) is coming off of their biggest win of the Golden era after knocking off No. 2 Tennessee at home. Their next test comes when they travel to Lexington to take on John Calipari and Kentucky (15-7, 6-3 SEC).

The Golden Win

In the midst of the hardest stretch of their schedule, the Gators were able to pick up a marquee win against Tennessee after a rough loss to Kansas State. Back-to-back top-10 matchups for the Gators set up to be the perfect way to warm up for a date with the Wildcats in Rupp Arena.

Colin Castleton has emerged as the leader of this team, on both ends of the court. An emotional player, Castleton was and will continue to have a key role in victories all year. Florida’s big man is averaging 15.1 points a game and 7.7 rebounds a game on the year. On the defensive end, Castleton sits third nationally in blocks per game with an astounding 3.1 blocks a game. Even more impressively, Castleton is second on the team in assists per contest with 2.6, a true testament that the offense runs through him.

Kentucky Wildcats Claw Back

Castleton will have his work cut out for him Saturday as reigning National Player of the Year, Oscar Tshiebwe, will be his matchup. In last year’s matchup, Kentucky came out on top twice with Tshiebwe being the centerpiece in each event, scoring 27 in each outing and combining for 33 rebounds.

https://twitter.com/KentuckyMBB/status/1620641969423765504

Similar to Castleton, Kentucky runs their offense through the physical dominance of Tshiebwe. The preseason All-American is averaging a double-double with 16.5 points a game and 13.6 rebounds. In addition to Tshiebwe, point guard Sahvir Wheeler has become a wizard of dishing the basketball. The senior guard just became third on the all-time assist list in the SEC, averaging nearly six assists this year.

Postseason Implications

Kentucky currently sits 35h in the net rankings, with Florida not far behind at 41. With both teams fighting to gain an at-large bid for the big dance, Saturday’s showdown is a big one. A battle of the big men and control of the pace will help determine the outcome of this game.

The Gators and Wildcats are set to tip off prime time at 8 PM Saturday night on ESPN.

About Kyle Curtis

A third-year journalism student with a focus in sports and media.

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