Florida downs Kentucky to win at Rupp, 71-67

Special to Gatorsports.com
Florida Colin Castleton tries to go to the basket Saturday against Kentucky.

LEXINGTON, Ky. — Tre Mann scored 21 points to lead Florida to a rare win at Rupp Arena on Saturday with a 71-67 decision over Kentucky.

The Gators (13-6, 9-6 SEC) are now 11-52 at Kentucky (8-14, 7-8), which saw its modest three-game winning streak halted. The win also stopped UK's five-game winning streak versus UF, which won for the third consecutive game.

"Anytime you can win a close game, especially against a high-level team in the program, especially on the road, there's a lot to take from that and learn from that," UF coach Mike White said. "Really win or lose, you're going to have opportunities to learn. In a close game where it was possession by possession, it was such a good college basketball game. Maybe we'll be able to take it a little bit more firmly."

Up next

Who: Missouri at Florida

When: 6:30 p.m. Wednesday

TV: SEC Network

Radio: 103.7-FM

Florida, which lost to Kentucky 76-58 on Jan. 9, picked up just the fifth season split in the series' history, the last coming in 1998.

Tyree Appleby's wide-open 3-pointer with 3 1/2 minutes remaining put the Gators ahead for good at 65-63 in a game that had 14 lead changes and nine ties, the vast majority coming in the second half when neither team led by more than four. Neither team scored again until Mann's baseline jumper with 1:49 to go. The 'Cats cut the lead to two twice after that but two free throws by Mann with 10.5 seconds remaining sealed the win.

"It was something that we talked about before the game," Mann said of the Gators' resilience. "Coach (White) was like, 'They're going to go on runs. They're going to make some tough shots. We're going to turn the ball over, but just stay in the moment.' Just doing whatever we have to do to get the win. That just means we have to stay locked in.

"Coach said before the game, 'When they go on a run, I want y'all's face to look the same way it's looking right now in the locker room.' And I feel like the team did a good job at that. We kept our composure. It led to great stuff."

Colin Castleton scored 14 points, Appleby added 11 and Anthony Duruji 10 for Florida, which shot 53% and made 7 of 15 from the arc, helping it overcome a big disparity at the free-throw line where they made 14 of 16 to 25 of 29 for Kentucky.

"The fouls continue to be an issue," White said. "My guys play really hard, but when you play really hard and you're switching some defenses, you're closing out to maybe a different guy than you're responsible for a few seconds earlier. We have to understand how to guard that guy without fouling that guy."

Kentucky took a 39-38 lead at the half by way of being 16 of 17 from the free throw line, while Florida was 4 for 4.

Florida trailed by 10 with 10:51 remaining in the half, then went on a 8-0 run to cut it to 26-24 on back-to-back 3-pointers by Noah Locke and Scottie Lewis and a dunk by Duruji, who led the Gators with 10 points at that point.

The Florida defense held Kentucky to one field goal made over a 13-minute span in the first half, including one stretch of seven consecutive missed field goals.

The Gators managed to take a 38-35 lead with 1:13 remaining on a Mann layup.

But Kentucky went up at the break on back-to-back baskets.

Florida is home against Missouri on Wednesday before concluding its regular season at Tennessee on March 7. Kentucky is at Mississippi on Tuesday and home against South Carolina next Saturday.

Notes: The Gators move into the No. 3 position in the conference standings with a week left in the regular season. ... This was Florida's second time this season rallying from a double-digit deficit to win, previously coming back from 12 down vs. Army in the season opener.

Florida 71, Kentucky 67

FLORIDA (13-6, 9-5 SEC)

Castleton 5-7 4-4 14, Duruji 5-9 0-0 10, Appleby 3-10 3-4 11, Locke 2-4 0-0 6, Mann 7-11 5-6 21, Lewis 2-5 0-0 5, Ruzhentsev 1-2 0-0 2, Osifo 0-0 0-0 0, O.Payne 0-0 2-2 2, Glover 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 25-48 14-16 71.

KENTUCKY (8-14, 7-8)

Jackson 4-4 3-4 11, Sarr 2-4 2-2 6, Boston 3-10 6-6 13, Mintz 7-14 5-5 21, Welch 0-0 0-0 0, Askew 0-6 1-2 1, Toppin 2-6 6-8 11, Brooks 1-5 2-2 4, Allen 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 19-49 25-29 67.

Halftime_Kentucky 39-38. 3-Point Goals_Florida 7-15 (Mann 2-2, Appleby 2-4, Locke 2-4, Lewis 1-4, Ruzhentsev 0-1), Kentucky 4-20 (Mintz 2-9, Toppin 1-2, Boston 1-4, Brooks 0-1, Sarr 0-1, Askew 0-3). Rebounds_Florida 23 (Mann 8), Kentucky 25 (Jackson 5). Assists_Florida 12 (Appleby 5), Kentucky 6 (Askew 2). Total Fouls_Florida 19, Kentucky 15.

Florida's Anthony Duruji slams down a dunk in the first half Saturday against Kentucky.