No. 7 Florida handles No. 25 Kentucky, 69-52
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) If there were any questions about Florida's status in the Southeastern Conference following a loss at Arkansas last week, the Gators put those to rest Tuesday night.
With another lopsided win in league play.
And against defending national champion Kentucky, which had freshman star Nerlens Noel go down with a knee injury.
Scottie Wilbekin had 14 points and eight assists, Pat Young recorded his sixth double-double of the season and No. 7 Florida handled the 25th-ranked Wildcats 69-52.
The Gators (20-3, 10-1 SEC) snapped a five-game losing streak in the series and improved to 12-0 at home.
This one solidified Florida's spot atop the SEC.
"They're an outstanding basketball team," Kentucky coach John Calipari said. "They were last year, they are this year. They're well coached, they're talented, they're very physical. Their guards are just jerking balls out of our guys' hands. We couldn't get near the basket on Young. He just physically took away the rim. And they're very active."
The Wildcats (17-7, 8-3) lost for the first time in six games, and it may have been costly.
Noel, the nation's leading shot-blocker, injured his left knee in the second half and was taken to a campus hospital for tests.
Noel, a forward who averages 10.6 points, 9.6 rebounds and 4.5 blocks a game, landed awkwardly on his leg with about 8 minutes to play. He screamed in pain as trainers rushed to his side. Teammates carried him to the locker room. After the game, trainers pushed him through the halls of the O'Connell Center in a wheelchair and with his left leg in a brace.
"I'm physically sick right now for him," Calipari said. "What I'm hoping is it's not the extreme. I'm hoping it's some sort of twist, but we don't know."
Florida had a comfortable lead before the injury.
The Gators opened a double-digit lead, 31-19, in the first half on consecutive 3-pointers by Wilbekin, Mike Rosario and Kenny Boynton - backbreaking shots that frustrated Calipari and had his players looking dazed and confused.
Florida extended it to 16 points on Rosario's layup. It was the biggest deficit the Wildcats had faced all season.
And they did little to erase it.
Young and fellow big man Erik Murphy, who was in early foul trouble, carried the load in the second half.
Young made a basket with a nifty, up-and-under move, had a reverse layup and added a sweet, left-handed hook. He finished with 12 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks.
"When he gives incredible effort and plays with a really good motor, he's capable of getting double-doubles every night," said Florida coach Billy Donovan, who improved to 2-7 against Calipari. "He rebounded. He made great effort plays, kept balls alive. He did a really good job."
Murphy drained a 3-pointer after taking a charge on the other end. He also had three blocks.
The Gators needed big games from Young and Murphy considering they played a second game without forward Will Yeguete and were undersized against the Wildcats.
Nonetheless, the difference was guard play.
Wilbekin sliced through the lane at will, creating open shots for teammates and getting Kentucky's players out of position. Noel, Archie Goodwin and Willie Cauley-Stein spent time on the bench in foul trouble.
"I really thought he played an all-around, very, very good game," Donovan said of Wilbekin, who was benched to start Saturday's win against Mississippi State.
Fellow guard Rosario finished with 12 points for Florida, which has won every conference game by double digits. Murphy chipped in 10 points, and Casey Prather added 12 points and two blocks and took several charges, proving again to be a capable replacement for Yeguete.
Cauley-Stein and Julius Mays led Kentucky with 10 points apiece.
The Wildcats shot 42 percent from the field and had 17 turnovers.
"We just played soft, scared, uptight," Mays said. "We let the pressure get to us. Usually, we're really good with the press. I don't know what it was today, but we just weren't tough enough."
Calipari warned reporters Monday that beating Florida would be a difficult task, especially since the Gators have played so well at home and have a much more experienced roster.
The most significant disparities came in the paint and off turnovers. The Gators scored 36 points in the paint and 20 points off turnovers; the Wildcats had 26 points down low and just five off Florida's 11 turnovers.
Afterward, though, all the talk was about Noel's injury.
"I don't know what ended up happening, but it was clear from him moaning in pain that he was struggling," Donovan said. "I admire the way he plays and I admire his energy. I don't know how badly he's hurt, but the energy came from a hustle play. It kind of embodies who he is as a player. He's a hustle-play guy, and you just feel sad if there's any kind of length or duration that he's out because everybody admires in this league, coaches-wise, how he plays the game."
Updated February 12, 2013
In the latest edition of the "It Is What It Is" podcast, Chris Price and CSNNE's Mike Giardi take a look at the Patriots offseason on both sides of the ball, try and get a handle on which new guys will make an impact first, and whether or not the Patriots have altered their style when it comes to drafting and developing wide receivers.
Mike Florio joined the program to discuss the Jets decision to release Tim Tebow, he said the situation is as disaster all around for the Jets and that the problems begins with owner Woody Johnson. Mike also said that he was disappointed with the Pats moving back in the first round.
One of the hardest working men in the biz, Mike Petraglia aka "Trags", sits down with Butch Stearns live in Foxborough to help break down all the latest Pats moves. He discusses his reaction to the trade in Round 1 and the guys those picks produced. Also, the boys talk about the decent trade the Pats made in acquiring LeGarrette Blount from Tampa Bay for Jeff Demps and a 7th rounder.
We check in with Danny Ainge for our first talk to him since the Celtics season ended last weekend. We talk about the future of the team, KG, Pierce, Doc Rivers and more, as Danny directly answers the rumors being floated by ESPN's Stephen A. Smith.
Jackie Mac joins the show to discuss the trade rumors swirling around Paul Pierce, KG, Doc Rivers and the Celtics. She also discusses the future of the Celtics head coach.
Stephen A. joined the program to discuss the trade rumors he has reported regarding a possible trade including Doc Rivers and the Clippers. Stephen A. also told the guys that he has heard that Danny and Doc may be tiring of working together.
Joe Castiglione talked with John Lackey after he picked up the W against the Twins. Lackey threw seven innings, and retired the 1st twelve batters of the game.
Dave O'Brien talked to John Farrell before the end of the Twins series. The Sox skipper said that Big Papi's success is no surprise given his work ethic.
John Farrell postgame press conference
Dale and DJ roll on with their puck talk and chat some more about the goalie matchup in this series, as well as the lack of a quality power play for both of these teams. In fact, DJ says the Rangers are even worse on the PP than the B’s! The guys also get into the resurgence of Milan Lucic and his deceptive speed and grit. Dale and DJ talk about the similar styles of play for these teams and look forward to Game 2.
Dale and DJ get into the two coaches and their polar opposite styles and demeanor. Both teams play a similar style, but the coaches certainly convey their messages in a different way. Dale isn't buying the Tortorella hype and thinks he's a little overrated. DJ thinks he's a good coach, but isn't a fan of anti-media stance. The guys also talk about Jagr and how he has not lived up to the hype. They weren't expecting him to light it up or be the savior, but DJ says he wasn't prepared for just how slow the aging veteran is. Another big topic for B's fans this season is the play of Tyler Seguin and why he has yet to become the superstar everyone anticipates he will be. This leads to Claude Julien's style and if he does actually have something against the younger players. That Iginla trade shows its ugly head again as well.
WEEI.com's DJ Bean joins Dale in studio for Sports Sunday to discuss the Bruins playoff run. Game 2 is later today and the guys discuss the results of the first game of the series. They get into the construction of the lines for the B's and if they would make any changes. DJ has a few ideas for the lines today. The boys also discuss the two goalies - Tuukka vs Henrik Lundqvist and wonder why people automatically think the Rangers have the edge at goalie. Finally, they get into the legacy and the decisions of Claude Julien and Peter Chiarelli.
Shawn joined the program to discuss another overtime win for the Bruins. When asked about Game 7 against Toronto, Thornton said that he would like to keep his specific comments in the dressing room private, but acknowledged that he encouraged Tyler Seguin to up his play and it paid off in overtime.
Barry joined the guys to help breakdown the Bruins overtime win last night in game one. Barry said that he has rarely seen a team dominate as much as the Bruins yet be forced to an overtime.
Boomer joined the program to discuss the tough loss for his beloved Rangers. Boomer told the guys that Lundqvist will be better in game two and predicted a seven game series.
Bruins rookie defenseman Matt Bartkowski has emerged as one of the young stars of the team and he joins Mut and Tom Caron to discuss his role on the team, why he's confident, and the trade that almost sent him to Calgary.
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Andy Brickley joins the show to discuss the Bruins Game 1 win over the Rangers, the play of the three young Bruins defensemen, and the fatigue Jagr has shown on the ice.
We talk all things game one with Jack Edwards of NESN, and get to hear a little from Jack's Finnish protege as well.
We tackle four topics we haven't yet touched upon today.. Joe Thornton and disappointing former Boston athletes, parking in Boston, buying jersey numbers and more...
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The Bruins have almost finished raking the Leafs, the Red Sox struggle from the mound, Miami Heat fans show their level of class.
Daily Planet Wednesday May 8th
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Sounds like a prostate exam to me!
Damn New Yorkers!
Sauce Man stylings!
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