#1 Florida vs. #18 Kentucky Live Blog
Posted by Mike on February 10, 2007
Normally, I would pick Florida to win this game, because they are so extremely balanced offensively and defensively, whereas Kentucky’s success depends mostly on Randolph Morris. But I have to pick Kentucky in a close one because of Rupp Arena. This is one of the most difficult place for a road team to play. It somehow manages the size of the Dean Dome with the atmosphere of Cameron Indoor Stadium. I went to College GameDay in Chapel Hill, and about 5,000 fans showed up. I saw Rupp Arena this morning; 9,000 fans were in attendance. These fans are insane. And if the other 23,00 fans won’t distract the Gators, Ashley Judd will.
Will the Gators assert their place on the food chain, or will Rupp Arena turn them into Meow Mix? (Sorry, I just had to say that.)
9:06 pm: The Kentucky crowd is truly insane. Florida does not seem to be affected early, as Taurean Green starts the game hitting a three. 3-0, Florida. Kentucky is taking quick, low percentage shots so far.
9:07 pm: Green makes a great pass to Joakim Noah, who gets the inside basket and the foul. He misses the free throw, but it’s a 5-0 lead for Florida. Morris gets an early foul.
9:08 pm: Morris gets his revenge, converting a three-point play of against Noah and cutting the gators’ lead to 5-3.
9:10 pm: Chris Richard comes off the bench for Florida, and he makes his presence felt with authority. He gets a huge dunk and converts a three point play, appears to get Morris his second foul in the first three minutes. 10-3, Florida.
9:12 pm: 14-7, Florida. Ramel Bradley seems to be the only guy playing well for the Wildcats. Corey Brewer gets two quick baskets for the Gators.
9:14 pm: 14-9, Florida. Kentucky gets a lift from Polish center Lucasz Obrzut. Hooray for Poland!
9:17 pm: 16-9, Florida. Noah picks up his second foul (I think), but the Cats are unable to take advantage. Morris is on the bench and it shows; Richard gets another basket on the inside to make it 18-9.
9:19 pm: 18-11, Florida. What is with coaches and colored blazers? Tubby Smith is wearing a Wildcat blue jacket tonight. Although considering the color of blue and after seeing Bruce Weber, Bruce Pearl, and Sidney Lowe, seeing a blue blazer is actually a welcome sight to my retina.
9:21 pm: 24-11, Florida. The Gators are physically dominating this game. In particular Noah is playing great defense, which has led to three straight baskets for Florida. That, and the fact that Kentucky can’t hit the broad side of a barn right now.
I’m crossing my fingers for a funny commercial. The only candidate so far is the trailer for Norbit.
9:24 pm: A lot of these big teams (Kansas, Kentucky, Big Ten squads, Wake, etc.) put specific shirts on seats in the front sections in order to make a giant swathe of the stadium monochrome. I would like to see UNC do this. If anything, we would look better than if 60 year old Rams Club members sat in the front rows wearing argyle. 24-13, Florida.
9:27 pm: Humphrey hits another three, this time from NBA range, to make it 27-13. He has such a sweet shot.
Apparently, Florida shoots 68% from downtown in SEC play this year. That is simply insane.
9:30 pm: 27-14, Florida. Kentucky can’t hit a shot to save their souls in this game; their only hope is to play shutdown defense, and so far Florida is getting WAY too many open shots.
9:34 pm: 30-16, Florida. Joe Crawford finally gets on the board, but not before Green hits another 3-pointer.
9:37 pm: 31-19, Florida. Kentucky finally seems to be picking up the pace, as Joe Crawford is attacking the rim now to get his shots, and the Wildcats are beginning to force turnovers.
9:42 pm: 31-21, Florida. The Wildcats have realy stepped up the intensity, especially on defense, which is creating offensive opportunities for them. Noah commits an offensive foul; if I;m not mistaken, that’s his third.
9:43 pm: 31-23, Kentucky. The game has really swung in Kentucky’s direction; they are in a 9-1 run since being down 16, cutting the lead in half.
9:47 pm: Dan Werner of Florida gets his third foul as well. Kentucky converts their free throws to reduce the Gator lead to 31-25. Kentucky has forced a complete defensive shutdown of the Gators.
9:49 pm: 34-27, Florida. Kentucky hits another shot to cut the lead to four, but Humphrey gets an open look for three, and you know what happens next.
9:51 pm: During a timeout, a Florida assistant is blocking ESPN’s HoverCam. Do they really think that strategy can leak that way?
9:54 pm: 36-27, Florida. The Wildcats have learned their lesson; they are not allowing Humphrey another open look. Taurean Green’s passing, however, eventually results in an open look inside.
9:56 pm: The first half ends with Florida leading, 36-27. With Kentucky’s bad shooting (which I should have seen coming), I would say the the Wildcats have no chance in this game. However, I think that their defense is good enough to keep them in the game, and eventually the dry spell could end for their offense.
10:13 pm: Believe it or not, The two teams’ main inside guys (Noah, Horford and Morris) were nonfactors in the first half. However, in the second half the Gators start with a great defensive play by Noah and a dunk by Horford on the other end, and Morris give Kentucky their first basket of the half. 38-29, Florida.
10:16 pm: 40-31, Florida. Morris is really warming up this half for the Wildcats, but what grabbed my attention was Noah’s jumper. He made a nice midrange jump shot, but damn, his shot is ugly.
10:18 pm: CORRECTION: Noah had only 2 fouls in the first half, not 3 as I reported. He just picked his third, as did Horford.
10:20 pm: 40-34, Florida. The Wildcats make their first 3-pointer in 11 attempts, but Joe Crawford botches an opportunity to reduce the lead further by not passing the ball early in transition. He does not seem to be playing well in this game.
10:24 pm: 41-36, Florida. Noah and Horford are on the bench, and Randolph Morris is taking advantage.
10:26 pm: 43-38, Florida. Morris is really the hot hand for Kentucky right now. He has hit 4 shots in the first 7 minutes of the second half.
10:29 pm: Horford returns to the game, but Morris hits another jumpshot to reduce the Gator lead to 3. 43-40, Florida.
10:34 pm: 47-40, Florida. Morris heads to the bench with three fouls, and Al Horford wastes no time reasserting himself in the paint. Meeks responds for the Wildcats and reduces the lead back to 5.
10:36 pm: 50-42, Florida. Corey Brewer hits a three to extend the lead, which is followed by 90 seconds of sloppiness on both sides. Kentucky still can’t buy an outside shot.
10:38 pm: Morris is back in the game, but it’s Meeks who gets the basket for the Cats. 50-44, Florida. Neither team is shooting the ball well in the second half.
10:41 pm: I am shocked by the dearth of bizarre ads today. There have been absolutely none. Fortunately, Japan never lets me down. Red Sox Nation, prepare yourself for Daisuke Matsuzaka.
10:43 pm: 50-46, Florida. Randolph Morris is ON FIRE!!! Brewer immediately responds with a layup, though. Noah finally comes back and gets an, er, “standing ovation” for the Wildcat faithful.
10:44 pm: 54-48, Florida. Holy Crap! I could have made more threes than Kentucky in this game. The Wildcats are still in this game, but they haven’t been able to close the gap, and that’s their fault for not taking advantage of the opportunities given to them.
10:48 pm: 54-48, Florida. Horford picks up his fourth foul. Morris MUST, I repeat, MUST touch the ball on every possession from this point on.
10:53 pm: 56-48, Florida. Horford gets a nice basket in the paint when it counts, and the Gators have an 8 point lead with less than 3 minutes left.
10:55 pm: 58-52, Florida. Morris hits his free throws, and Bradley drives the lane for a tough layup. Noah then turns the ball over in position to score.
10:57 pm: Kentucky, believe it or not, has three different Wildcat mascots: The tough-looking one, the friendly one, and the inflatable one. Truly insane.
11:00 pm: 60-54, Florida. Kentucky may get its three pointer yet. Bradley is fouled by Noah (who fouls out) outside the arc. He hits his first two shots, but misses the third. The basketball gods won’t even let the Wildcats make a symbolic three. Ugh.
11:02 pm: 63-54, Florida. Brewer seems to be salting this away at the free throw line.
11:03 pm: 63-57, Florida. Bradley finally hits a three from deep. Kentucky might not be dead yet.
11:04 pm: 63-60, Florida. OOOOHHHHH!!! Bradley steals the inbound pass, and hits an off-balance three to make it a one-possession game!
11:07 pm: 64-61, Florida. Green commits a silly foul, but Bradley only hits 1 of 2.
11:08 pm: The Gators throw away the inbound pass with 9 seconds left, and the Wildcats now have an opportunity to tie the game and send it to overtime.
11:09 pm: Bradley tries a three, but is heavily defended, and the shot falls just short. Florida hangs on to win, 64-61. That shot was a microcosm of the game: Kentucky giving an awesome effort, Florida playing well but leaving the door open, but Kentucky is unable to take advantage of the opportunity they’re given.Kentucky has an excellent defense, and I would be really scared of them if they’re able to fix their shooting problems. With that defense, they’ll be in every game.
Final thought: Who the hell is the voice that introduces SportsCenter segments? He may have the most annoying low tone voice ever. I’ll bet he’s single; no girl would want to date that. Or would they? It may be an attribute when used properly. Um, I’d better stop talking now.