GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- A quick look at No. 7 Florida’s 69-52 victory over No. 25 Kentucky on Tuesday night at the O’Connell Center:
Overview: Florida got off to a slow start, but quickly recovered and rolled past Kentucky to snap a five-game losing streak to the Wildcats -- and secure first place in the Southeastern Conference at the same time.
UF missed its first five shots, fell behind 4-0, and Patric Young wen to the bench with an early foul in the game’s first three minutes. An 8-0 run -- started by an Erik Murphy 3-pointer -- erased that deficit and the Gators (20-3, 10-1 SEC) never trailed.
The 17-point margin is tied for the second-biggest margin of victory for Florida in the series. Five UF players scored in double figures.
Florida now has a two-game lead over Kentucky (17-7, 8-3) in the SEC standings.
Turning point: Kentucky was in position to cut Florida’s lead to less than 10 points with eight minutes remaining in the game, but an injury to Wildcats forward Nerlens Noel sapped UK’s momentum. Noel, who had posted double-doubles in his last previous games, smashed his knee on the basketball support after blocking Mike Rosario’s attempted layup. Florida was leading 57-45 at the time of Noel’s injury. Noel finished with eight points and six rebounds.
Key player: Florida G/F Casey Prather gave the Gators great minutes off the bench, especially in the first half. The 6-foot-6 Prather has been pressed into playing power forward because of the loss of Will Yeguete, and he responded with 8 points, 1 rebound, 1 block and 1 assist in the first 20 minutes. He also drew a pair of charges.
Key stat: As usual, the Gators feasted on turnovers. UF scored 20 points off 17 Kentucky turnovers.
Miscellaneous: UF coach Billy Donovan is now 2-7 against Kentucky under John Calipari. … The 25 points Kentucky scored in the first half was tied for the fewest the Wildcats have scored in a first half this season. … Florida improved to 12-0 at home this season.
Next game: Florida plays at Auburn on Saturday; Kentucky plays at Tennessee the same day.