The celebration is over but it can live on forever inside your home or office with this Final Four print from Stadium Frame. The 34×24 framed photo is matted with coins and features a shot of the Superdome court just after the final buzzer sounded to end Kentucky’s magical 2011-12 season. Go to www.Final4Prints.com to purchase the print you see here, or pick out another print or variation of this one from Stadium Frame.
Phew, lots of news. Let’s get to it.
— We’re three and a half hours away from Kentucky/Florida in Gainesville. While the Gators fans standing outside the O-Dome digest their free Subway sandwiches, let’s look at three keys to tonight’s game:
1. Defend the three
Florida leads the SEC in field goal percentage (.493; seventh nationally), 3-pointers made per game (8.8), 3-point field goal percentage (.388), assist-turnover ratio (1.4) and assists (15.9). They have a balanced scoring attack, led by Kenny Boynton (13.1 ppg), Erick Murphy (12.1) and Mike Rosario (12.5). The Cats will have to clamp down on the perimeter to keep the crowd in check and the momentum from swinging too far in the Gators’ direction. Florida is 11-0 at home this season, and it looks like they might actually sell this game out, so Kentucky doesn’t need to give the Reptiles anything to get Rowdy about.
2. Take care of the ball
Florida is known for its defensive intensity. They’ve held three opponents to 40 points or fewer, 11 under 50 points and 16 under 60 points. The Gators ranks fourth in the country in scoring defense, allowing 52.7 points per game, and has a nation’s-best +21.5 scoring margin. So far this season, the Cats are turning the ball over 13.2 times per game. Archie Goodwin and Ryan Harrow will need to rise to Calipari’s challenge of taking care of the ball and making smart decisions.
3. Own the middle
If there’s one area where Kentucky may have an advantage, it’s the middle. Nerlens Noel vs. Patric Young will be a battle (Young proved he wasn’t scared of Anthony Davis last year and he won’t be of Noel this year), and the Cats will benefit from having Willie Cauley-Stein back in the rotation. Losing Will Yeguette will hurt the Gators in the post, especially if Young gets in foul trouble.
— Picture break! This shot of Willie Cauley-Stein and his family in the team hotel in Gainesville is great:
— This morning, Mark Stoops and company got their first 2014 commitment, Denzel Ware. Ware is a 6’3″, 220 lbs. 4-star defensive end from Crestview, Florida who had originally committed to Florida State while Mark Stoops and DJ Eliot were on the staff. Once they left, he dropped his commitment to entertain offers from Alabama, Florida, Georgia Tech, Ohio State, Texas, USC and others. But, his relationship with DJ Eliot was too strong and he decided to pledge to Kentucky, where he will be the highest rated recruit since Micah Johnson in 2006. Ware is rated the 44th best player in the 2014 class and the nation’s 4th best weakside defensive end by 24/7 Sports. His commitment is just that–a pledge–for the next year, and it’s hard to think that the bigger schools won’t put on some more heat, but it’s proof that Stoops’ connections in Florida and Marrow’s connections in Ohio are already paying off. Plus, that offer list…good Lord.
— Rivals released their 250 to Watch in 2014, and Ware came in at #223. Other notable UK targets: S Jamal Adams at #33 (son of former Cat George Adams and godson of Joker Phillips); QB Drew Barker at #153; OT Nick Rachardson at #180; WR Thaddeus Snodgrass at #198; and S Deion Singleton at #214.
— We finally got an Andrew Wiggins update this morning during the flurry of news at the KSR Compound. Wiggins eliminated Ohio State and Syracuse from his list, leaving Kentucky, Florida State, Kansas and North Carolina. He also (tentatively) scheduled three visits to UK, KU and UNC, with his trip to Lexington coming up on February 27th for the Mississippi State game. eRupption Zone, you know what to do.
— Unfortunate news for former Louisville player Jared Swopshire, whose college career ended at Northwestern earlier today after he underwent arthroscopic knee surgery following what seemed to be a minor injury on Saturday. Did the Louisville injury curse follow him to Chicago?
— Want a little “Where Are They Now” on one of your favorite former Gators? Matt Walsh is currently playing pro ball in Europe for Spirou Charleroi in Belgium, where he has an admittedly adorable son and tweets a lot about Florida basketball, including tonight’s game. Walsh said that while he’s rooting hard for his Gators, he always enjoyed playing in Rupp, despite some of the…well, let’s say tough love from the crowd:
@_melvv_ yea I remember that, I loved playing at Rupp…but my favorite chant was “F you Walsh”
— matt walsh (@mattyvincent44) February 12, 2013
On today’s show, Matt and Ryan previewed the Florida game, gave away tickets to the game in one of the most frustrating contests ever, and announced the departure of our friend Drew the Employee (not Franklin), who will be moving to the Windy City to live with his lady love. Enjoy.