A Message from Our Sponsor:
It’s basketball season in the Bluegrass and at Lockbox, inside the 21c (twenty one see) Museum Hotel, that means comfort food and good bourbon. Fuel up with our seed-crusted Catfish or the Lockbox Cheeseburger, and wash it down with your choice from our list of over 60 bourbons. On game day, or any day, join us at Lockbox…..one six seven West Main Street in the 21c (Twenty-one see) Museum Hotel. You can win dinner for two just by signing up for our email list at 21cmuseumhotels.com/mailing-list.
What do we need to know about Florida?
Sitting at 17-13 on the year and No. 6 in the SEC, the Florida Gators are fighting for their lives right now in terms of their spot in the NCAA Tournament.
Over the last two games, Florida has lost by six at home to Georgia and lost in overtime to LSU in Gainesville. After starting the week as a projected No. 9 or No. 10 seed, their record dropped to 17-13, with another possible loss today against Kentucky to push their record to 17-14.
With a win, they can add another impressive victory to their resume and potentially convince the NCAA selection committee that they are worthy of sliding in as a bubble team with a solid run in the SEC Tournament.
With a loss, their bubble is almost certainly busted, barring a miracle run to an SEC Championship in Nashville next week.
Averaging just 68.7 points per game on the year, the Gators are not going to run the scoreboard up on you. Only two players on the team, senior guard KeVaughn Allen and freshman guard Noah Locke, average more than ten points per contest, with the former putting up 12.2 points per game and the latter averaging 10.3.
Elsewhere, senior center Kevarrius Hayes averages 7.4 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks per contest. The 6-foot-9, 230-pound big man will be Florida’s premiere big man this afternoon.
On the wing, 6-foot-5 forward Keyontae Johnson is coming off a strong 15-point performance against No. 10 LSU. He averages 7.7 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 1.3 assists per contest.
Back on February 2, the Kentucky Wildcats managed to turn an 11-point deficit in the second half to a 65-54 victory in Gainesville.
In a back and forth effort in the first half, Florida managed to separate themselves once Tyler Herro picked up his second foul with eight minutes to go before break. He had ten points on 4-4 shooting before sitting out the rest of the first half.
After taking a 33-29 lead into halftime, the Gators found a way to extend the lead to 11 with 14 minutes remaining in the contest. From there, the Cats found a bit of consistency with a 10-0 run before really kicking it into high-gear at the eight-minute mark.
Once they got within striking distance, Kentucky outscored Florida by a score of 22-7 in the final eight minutes of the game to eventually cross the finish line with a 65-54 road victory.
Kentucky turned a tight game into a 65-54 win thanks to a dominant final eight minutes in Gainesville.
Herro continued to dominate on the road, leading the team with 19 points (6-8 shooting, 3-4 from three), six rebounds, two assists, and a steal.
Kentucky forward PJ Washington finished with a double-double of his own, ending the day with 15 points and 12 rebounds in the win.
Freshman forward Keldon Johnson rounded out Kentucky’s double-digit scorers, finishing with ten points and eight rebounds.
As for the Gators, Andrew Nembhard led the way with 12 points followed by guards KeVaughn Allen and Jalen Hudson with 11 points a piece.
As of right now, the Wildcats favored by a smooth ten points against the Gators, including an over/under total set at 128.5.
Kentucky is 16-14-0 against the spread this year while Florida sits at 12-18-0. The Cats have covered the spread in five of their last ten games, including just one of their last five with Reid Travis out (including Missouri). The Gators, however, have covered in just three of their last ten matchups.
ESPN’s matchup predictor favors Kentucky by a total of 87.6 percent to 12.4 percent. KenPom gives the Wildcats an 81 percent chance of winning and projects a 68-58 victory for UK.
NumberFire, another advanced betting/prediction outlet, gives the Cats an overall rating edge of 70.9 to 64 compared to the Gators.
Kentucky seniors Reid Travis and Jonny David will be celebrated prior to Kentucky’s matchup with Florida this afternoon.
UK head coach John Calipari gave special messages to each of his seniors on Twitter yesterday afternoon, thanking them for their contributions to the program.
Here is the message for Travis:
— John Calipari (@UKCoachCalipari) March 8, 2019
— John Calipari (@UKCoachCalipari) March 8, 2019
The Senior Day festivities will begin at 1:45 p.m.
As for each of their playing statuses, it was announced that David would be getting his first career start against the Gators this afternoon.
With Travis, however, his situation is still up in the air.
In Kenny Payne’s press conference yesterday, the associate head coach still considered Travis day-to-day, but hoped the Wildcat senior could suit up this afternoon. “But we’ll see,” he said.
“We’re not in the business of forcing kids to [play]. He knows what his body is, he’ll let us know and we’ll go from there with it,” Payne said.
We’ll know more in just a few hours when players start to warm up.
Prepare on the KSR Pregame Show
Before the Kentucky takes the court, listen to the KSR crew preview the matchup between the Cats and the Gators. All of the action begins on 630 WLAP or online at 11:30 a.m.
How to Watch and Listen
Spero Dedes and Jim Spanarkel are on the call for CBS beginning at 2 p.m. If you’re stuck on the road and can’t watch, there are multiple ways to listen to The Voice of the Wildcats.
- AM: 840 WHAS, 630 WLAP
- FM: 98.1 WBUL
- Satellite: XM-190 and Sirius-119
- Online: iHeart Radio
Today’s college basketball schedule
No. 5 Tennessee at Auburn – Noon (ESPN)
No. 14 Florida State at Wake Forest – Noon (ACC Network)
VMI at No. 22 Wofford – Noon (ESPN+)
No. 23 Villanova at Seton Hall – Noon (Fox)
Florida at No. 6 Kentucky – 2:00 p.m. (CBS)
No. 8 Texas Tech at Iowa State – 2:00 p.m. (ESPN News)
Baylor at No. 13 Kansas – 2:00 p.m. (ESPN)
No. 11 Purdue at Northwestern – 2:30 p.m. (Big Ten Network)
Georgetown at No. 16 Marquette – 2:30 p.m. (Fox)
Louisville at No. 2 Virginia – 4:00 p.m. (ESPN)
No. 25 UCF at Temple – 4:00 p.m. (ESPN2)
No. 4 Duke at No. 3 North Carolina – 6:00 p.m. (ESPN)
Oklahoma at No. 18 Kansas State – 6:00 p.m. (ESPN2)
No. 7 Michigan at No. 9 Michigan State – 8:00 p.m. (ESPN)
Vanderbilt at No. 10 LSU – 8:30 p.m. (SEC Network)
San Diego State at No. 17 Nevada – 10:30 p.m. ET (CBS Sports Network)