Gators try to regroup after big road loss

Kentucky's Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, left, pulls in a rebound next to Florida's Patric Young during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Lexington, Ky., Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2012. Kentucky won 78-58. (The Associated Press)

Published: Thursday, February 9, 2012 at 8:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, February 8, 2012 at 11:56 p.m.

There were no excuses. No finger-pointing.

Florida players took responsibility for their performance in their 78-58 loss at No. 1 Kentucky. The 20-point margin was UF's worst loss since falling 104-82 to Tennessee on Feb. 5, 2008.

So it's fitting the Vols are coming to town to face the Gators on Saturday at the O'Connell Center. Florida (19-5, 7-2 Southeastern Conference) will look to regroup and avenge a 67-56 loss at Tennessee earlier this season.

“We have to move on,” Florida freshman guard Bradley Beal said. “We'll have a day off (Wednesday) and then we will watch film and then be ready for the next game Saturday against Tennessee. We have to put this one behind us.”

The Gators were dominated in just about every phase of the game against the No. 1 Wildcats. Despite grabbing 18 offensive rebounds, Florida was out-rebounded 38-31. Kentucky also outscored Florida 16-6 on fast-break points.

“They would get a block, get down in transition and get some easy points,” Florida junior guard Kenny Boynton said. “That just kind of deflated us overall as a team.”

Boynton said he's confident that the Gators will regroup from the blowout loss. Florida hasn't lost back-to-back games this season.

“We've been in this position a lot,” Boynton said. “This year when we've lost, I think we've responded well previously. We've got to come out and do the same. … We've got to practice hard.”

The loss moved Florida two-and-a-half games behind Kentucky in what appears to be a one-horse SEC title race. Like a fallen politician, Florida coach Billy Donovan all but conceded the SEC regular-season title to Kentucky following Tuesday night's loss.

“I don't think there is anybody in our league that has the level of talent that they have,” Donovan said. “I think (Kentucky coach) John (Calipari) does a great job of getting them all to mesh and play together. I think they continue to get better. They are talent-wise from what we've played probably best in the league right now.”

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