LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) - On a day freshman-dominated Kentucky was
honoring its seniors, sophomore Darius Miller was most responsible
for making sure the Wildcats finished their season with a perfect
The No. 3 Wildcats saw a big early lead slip away against
Florida, but Miller got most of his 14 points in the clutch to help
pull out a 74-66 victory and possibly cement a top seed in the NCAA
Afterward, Miller warned that these close calls have got to stop
with the postseason about to begin.
"That's happened to us a few times this year," Miller said.
"We really need to take care of that. It might not work against
some other team."
The Wildcats (29-2, 14-2) had already clinched their 44th
Southeastern Conference title outright with Vanderbilt's loss to
South Carolina on Saturday night. Florida (20-11, 9-7) may need to
win a few games in this week's SEC tournament in Nashville, Tenn.,
to reach the NCAAs.
Kentucky coach John Calipari said he thinks the Gators belong
"I'm rooting for them," Calipari said. "They played hard,
never quit. They went right at us."
Kentucky's 18-0 home record ties the 1985-86 team for the best
in program history. The last time the Wildcats reached 14 league
wins was 2005.
Although there were plenty of standouts in this one for the
Wildcats, who had five double-digit scorers, Miller made some of
the most meaningful baskets, going 5 for 7 from the field,
including three 3-pointers. He matched Eric Bledsoe as the game's
Miller's third 3 early in the second half stopped a 9-1 run by
Florida that had helped cut into a large early deficit.
He credits his more highly touted teammates, who sometimes will
draw double-teams and give him better looks.
"Everybody's focusing on them, so that gives me a little space
to roam and be aggressive," Miller said.
Kentucky led by as many as 18 late in the first half, but
Florida got a slew of uncontested baskets and cut it to 57-54
midway through the second after a 3-pointer by Alex Tyus, who led
Florida with 12 points.
The Gators pulled within two when a layup by Vernon Macklin made
it 60-58 with seven minutes left. Patrick Patterson answered with a
dunk and John Wall followed with a 3 to give the Wildcats some
"I think in the first half we certainly dug ourselves a hole,"
Florida coach Billy Donovan said.
Kentucky never trailed and began to pad the lead midway through
the first half when Miller passed up a wide-open 3-pointer but
dished it around to Bledsoe, who nailed the long jumper instead.
Then, on the next trip down, Miller added his own 3, putting the
Wildcats up 16-9.
Kenny Boynton answered for Florida by hitting a 3-pointer in
"There is no moral victory for us," Florida forward Chandler
Parsons said. "A loss is a loss. They are the third-best team in
the country, and we feel that we can play with anybody on their
home court and their hostile environment."
After Tyus hit a fade-away jumper to cut the Kentucky lead to
20-16 midway through the first half, the Gators didn't get a field
goal for more than five minutes while the Wildcats pulled away
early with a 14-0 run.
Miller had five points in that stretch and Darnell Dodson added
one of his two 3-pointers.
However, Bledsoe punctuated the run with the showstopping play
of the afternoon - a reverse layup that he finished with his back
to the basket while plummeting out of bounds. That gave the
Wildcats their largest early lead at 34-18.
Florida cut the deficit to 41-31 at halftime.
Calipari typically starts three freshmen and one sophomore, but
the team's lone seniors, Mark Krebs, Perry Stevenson and Ramon
Harris, started and played the first five minutes. Also honored on
Senior Day was usual starter Patrick Patterson, a junior who is
expected to graduate in three years and will likely enter the NBA
"I was just trying to hold back the tears," Patterson said.
"I just kept looking at the fans, trying to soak it all in."
Wall, a freshman and near-lock for the draft as perhaps the No.
1 overall pick, joined those four in the starting lineup.
Wall finished with 11 points, including back-to-back driving
layups in the second half that helped withstand the Florida
Kentucky Men’s Basketball Post-Game Notes
Florida at Kentucky
March 7, 2010, Rupp Arena, Lexington, Ky.
FINAL SCORE: Kentucky 74, Florida 66
Team Records, Series Notes and Season Notes
• Kentucky is 29-2, 14-2 in the Southeastern Conference. Florida is 20-11, 9-7 in league action.
• UK’s 29th victory is the most for the Wildcats in one season since the 2002-03 squad went 32-4.
• UK’s 14th league win is the most for the Wildcats in one season since the 2005 team also won the championship with a 14-2 record.
• South Carolina’s win over Vanderbilt on Saturday clinched the outright SEC championship for Kentucky, the Wildcats’ 44th regular-season title. It is UK’s first SEC championship since 2005.
• Coach John Calipari has won 11 conference championships, including five in a row (one at UK, four Conference USA at Memphis).
• Kentucky leads the series, 87-32. UK leads the series 44-8 in games played in Lexington.
• Kentucky went 18-0 at home this season.
o It is UK’s ninth undefeated home record in the 34-year history of Rupp Arena.
o It is the first undefeated home season since the 1999-2000 squad went 14-0.
o It ties the 1985-86 team, which also went 18-0, for best home record in a season.
• UK’s men’s and women’s teams went undefeated at home this season, joining the 1980-81 season as the only times in school history that feat has been accomplished.
• Kentucky is the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Division for the SEC Tournament, March 11-14 in Nashville. It is UK’s first No. 1 seed in the league event since 2005.
• UK has a bye on Thursday and will take on the winner of Alabama (West No. 4) vs. South Carolina (East No. 5) on Friday at 1 p.m. EST. The game will be televised on the SEC Network.
• Today’s attendance was 24,354.
o Kentucky set the Rupp Arena record for most attendance in a season (433,989). The old record was 422,547 set last season in 19 games.
o Kentucky set the Rupp Arena record for highest average in a season (24,111). The old record was 24,025 in 1990-91, a 13-game season.
• Kentucky used the starting lineup of John Wall, Mark Krebs, Ramon Harris, Perry Stevenson and Patrick Patterson.
o It was Krebs’ first start of his career.
o It was Stevenson’s first start of the season.
o It was Harris’ second start of the season.
• Patrick Patterson opened the scoring on UK’s first possession with a straight-away three-pointer with 18:44 on the clock. It extended UK’s streak of 742 consecutive games with a three-point basket.
• Kentucky jumped out to a 5-0 lead and never trailed.
• Harris, Krebs and Stevenson played the first 5:23 of the game before being replaced at the 14:37 mark. UK had a 7-3 lead at that point.
• Ahead 20-16, UK went on a 14-0 run for a 34-16 lead with 5:20 to go, the Wildcats’ largest advantage of the half.
• Florida went on a hot streak in the final five minutes of the half, cutting the lead to 41-31 by intermission.
• Kentucky made 6-of-12 three-point shots in the first half. It is the second-consecutive game that the Wildcats made six threes in the first half.
• Florida gradually chipped away in the second half and pulled within two, 60-58, at the 6:52 mark. The Gators got the ball back but had a turnover and Patrick Patterson hit a short jumper.
• Florida again pulled within two, 62-60, with 5:28 to go, but the Wildcats got the next six points on a three-pointer
by Wall, a foul shot by Wall and two foul shots by Darnell Dodson for a 68-60 cushion.
• After Florida had pulled within 59-56 with 10:52 to play, the Gators scored only 10 more points the remainder of the game.
• Kentucky had five players score in double figures, the first time that happened since the Vanderbilt game on Jan. 30.
• Seniors Ramon Harris, Mark Krebs and Perry Stevenson, along with upcoming graduate Patrick Patterson, were honored in pregame Senior Day ceremonies.
• John Wall tallied 11 points, including two foul shots, and had eight assists.
o Wall extended his UK freshman season record for most points with 504.
o Wall extended his UK freshman season assist record to 187.
o Wall extended his UK freshman season record for free throws made with 147.
• Patrick Patterson had 13 points, five rebounds, two blocked shots and a season-high four steals.
o Patterson has made a three-pointer in 10 of the last 11 games.
o Patterson moved past Cliff Hagan (1,475) for 16th place on the UK career scoring list and has 1,482 points as a Wildcat.
• DeMarcus Cousins had eight points and nine rebounds.
o Cousins extended his UK freshman season record for rebounds with 312.
• Darius Miller had 14 points, his first double-figure game since his career-high 18 vs. Arkansas on Jan. 23.
• Darnell Dodson made all three of his field-goal attempts today, including a pair of three-pointers, and both free-throw attempts for 10 points. It is his second-straight game in double figures.
• Eric Bledsoe tallied 14 points, his most since 16 vs. Tennessee on Feb. 13.