Back on January 20, the first round of Kentucky vs. Florida ended with a controversial no-call when PJ Washington got crushed on a layup attempt in the game’s final seconds.
And the team was not happy in the postgame interviews.
“I’ve been asked some dumb questions in my life, I don’t mean to embarrass you, but everybody saw it,” head coach John Calipari said of the contact.
Sophomore forward Wenyen Gabriel agreed, saying “I can’t control officiating, but obviously in the heat of the moment, I thought he got fouled.”
Center Nick Richards didn’t even want to discuss the no-call.
“Next question, please,” Richards said. “Sorry, I’m not going to talk about that.”
The Cats had won 30 consecutive SEC matchups at Rupp Arena, including 16 straight at home overall.
It was Kentucky’s second loss in a row, and the third of their last five games. They turned around and won three consecutive games, but would go on to lose seven of 12 total games, and soon fell completely out of the top-25.
Needless to say, the Florida game left a poor taste in the team’s mouth, and they’re looking forward to their upcoming matchup with the Gators on Saturday.
“I’m definitely looking forward to this game,” said point guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who finished with a near-triple-double with 18 points, ten assists, and seven rebounds against the Rebels. “They’re a really good team, really talented. We’re trying to get them back.”
For Gilgeous-Alexander’s backcourt mate, Quade Green, this game has been circled on the calendar since the team’s 66-64 loss back in January.
“We’re gonna see on Saturday,” Green said. “We got one for them. It’s gonna be a war at 12 o’clock.”
When asked by LEX18’s Alan Cutler if this game was on the back of his mind, Green reiterated his excitement for the regular season finale.
“Yeah, it’s on the back of our minds. It starts now,” he said.
With Wenyen Gabriel, the Florida game is nothing more than a warm-up for postseason play.
“We’re thinking about March going into this game,” said Gabriel. “We’re just trying to get a good win for our morale going into the SEC Tournament and March Madness. We just see this as a good challenge for us.”
Gainesville is obviously a tough environment, but with the Cats rolling to four consecutive victories and their best two weeks of offense since non-conference play, they’re ready to return the favor from round one.
Can we fast forward to tip-off already?