By KEITH TAYLOR, Kentucky Today
LEXINGTON — Kentucky has gotten over its disappointing loss to Tennessee and the sixth-ranked Wildcats face a tough task in a bound-back encounter at Florida in their regular-season finale Saturday in Gainesville.
Kentucky (24-6, 14-3 Southeastern Conference) let a 17-point lead slip away in an 81-73 setback to the Volunteers earlier this week.
Kentucky forward Keion Brooks said practices and other team functions have “been great like usual and added that Calipari has been in a “great mood.”
“We’re competitors,” Brooks said Friday. “We’re not always going to agree with each other. I wish we could all sit here and sing kumbaya and everything would be all right, but that’s not how the game works. There are going to be some fiery times. There’s going to be some tension here and there, but as long as we all still believe in each other, that’s all that matters.”
The Wildcats have had trouble delivering the proverbial knockout blow against teams this season, which is a puzzling trait even for Calipari who admitted his squad is “a game-to-game team more than any other team that I’ve coached.”
“Normally you’ll have an idea of who we’re going at,” he said. “This team is different.”
Florida (19-11, 11-6) is tangled in a three-way tie with LSU and Auburn for second place the league standings going into the final day of the regular season. With a win, the Gators can lock up a No. 2 seed for the league tournament that begins next week in Nashville. A loss could drop Florida to as low as fifth in the final standings, depending outcome of Auburn’s contest at Tennessee and LSU’s home encounter against Georgia on Saturday.
Kentucky edged Florida 65-59 on Feb. 22 in the first meeting between the two teams, a game that went own to the wire.
“It was anybody’s ballgame until Immanuel (Quickley) hit three 3s so let’s not say that we just dominated their guards because we didn’t,” Calipari said. “First half, we were playing pick-and-roll a certain way and we changed it up in the second half.
“That may have slowed them down, but they had every opportunity to win the game, including it was a five-point game late. So they’re good. They’re playing good basketball right now, they’ve got some vets and it’s a significant game.”
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Gametracker: Kentucky at Florida, 1 p.m., Saturday. TV/Radio: CBS, UK Radio Network.
Keith Taylor is sports editor for Kentucky Today. Reach him at email@example.com or twitter @keithtaylor21.