LEXINGTON — Florida wants to take 3-point shots and got off 27 against Kentucky on Tuesday. However, Florida didn’t do what it normally does — and that’s make a lot of those shots.
The Gators came into the game leading the nation with 10.3 made 3-pointers per game, but hit just six in a 78-58 loss to No. 1 Kentucky that gives the Wildcats a two-game lead in the Southeastern Conference race. The Gators made just two of their first 17 3s when Kentucky built a sizeable lead before connecting on four of their final 10 tries.
“That’s just part of their coaching. It was great coaching and great scouting. They know that we are a 3-point shooting team, and they took our best strength away from us. We have to find other ways to be able to put the ball in the basket, and we didn’t do that,” said Florida freshman Bradley Beal, who was 1-for-7 from 3-point range.
Point guard Ervin Walker was 0-for-4 from long range and Erik Murphy 1-for-5 after hitting his first try. The only Gator who had success was Kenny Boynton, who made four of eight shots and had 18 points.
“I think our offense took the energy out of us defensively. I think we were trying to drive and take tough shots and they just kept blocking them. We were coming down, one pass, shot. We never started running our plays. We should have. They were getting transition points,” Boynton said.
The Wildcats blocked six shots, including four by Anthony Davis. They also outrebounded Florida 38-31.
Kentucky coach John Calipari felt it was a combination of good defense by his team and poor shooting by Florida that led to the Gators’ 3-point woes.
“They missed a lot of open 3s that they normally make. Our goal was to try to hold them to eight 3s, that’s what we were shooting for,” Calipari said. “We figured if we held them to eight, they would be middle 60s, and we thought we could score a little bit more than that and that was our whole goal.”
He felt UK’s length impacted Florida’s shooting.
“Well, we got a long team. Michael Gilchrist, Terrence Jones, Doron Lamb, Darius Miller. I thought Kyle Wiltjer followed the game plan today. They made a basket on him, but he did what we told him to do. But we're playing good defense from a lot of different positions,” Calipari said.
Florida coach Billy Donovan thought his team helped UK’s defense.
“I don’t know if we necessarily attacked their defense great in terms of with a high level of intelligence there, but I did think that we had some decent looks,” Donovan said. “One of the things that I thought that hurt us, at least in the first half, was I thought we had a lot of plays in around the basket that I thought we could have finished, that we didn’t finish, that were on the rim, and that we had pretty clean looks.
“And then I thought we had a couple of plays where we probably could have made the extra pass, had a little bit better ball movement. But it was probably a combination of their defense, and then we missed some shots.”