Cats overcome slow start to defeat Florida

Published 4:20 pm Sunday, February 3, 2019

Kentucky knows what it takes to win on the road and rallied to beat Florida on Saturday.

The seventh-ranked Wildcats used a big second half to hold off the hosts and escaped with a 65-54 victory over the Gators. Kentucky posted its eighth-straight win, including its last four on the road and has limited its last eight foes to less than 60 points.

The Wildcats (18-3, 8-1 Southeastern Conference) trailed 42-31 with 13 minutes remaining but outscored the Gators 34-12 the remainder to the contest to complete a successful comeback. Kentucky, which made 13-of-16 free throws, connected on six in the final 1:40 to secure the double-digit victory.

“We know that we have to come together,” Kentucky sophomore PJ Washington said. “You’re down 11 on the road. We just have to come together and have each other’s back and definitely just locked down on defense. We just had to dig down deep, come out and get it done. We didn’t want to lose.”

Tyler Herro paced Kentucky with 19 points and made three of the team’s six 3-pointers. Herro added six rebounds. He scored 10 points to keep the Wildcats from suffering a complete meltdown in the first half. Herro also hit a clutch 3-pointer down the stretch to fend off the Gators

PJ Washington continued his string of impressive games with 15 points to go along with 12 rebounds. Washington recorded his seventh double-double of the year after scoring at least 20 points in the previous three games for the first time in his career.

“He’s built his own confidence,” Kentucky coach John Calipari said. “He’s taking control of games. He’s coaching players on the court. I’ve been waiting a year and a half for this.”

Keldon Johnson rounded out three players in double figures with 10 points and just missed a double-double with eight rebounds. Kentucky had 13 assists on 23 made field goals and outrebounded the Gators, 46-34.

Andrew Nembhard paced the Gators (12-9, 4-4) with 12 points. KeVaughn Allen and Jalen Hudson added 11 points apiece. Florida plays four of its next five games on the road.

“For 30 minutes, we played well enough to beat a terrific team that’s playing really, really well,” Florida coach Mike White said. “Just couldn’t hold on.”

Gametracker: South Carolina at Kentucky, 7 p.m. Tuesday. TV/Radio: SEC Network, UK Radio Network.