Kentucky Asserts Its SEC Dominance With Big Win Over Florida

LEXINGTON, KY - FEBRUARY 07: Terrence Jones #3 and Anthony Davis #23 of the Kentucky Wildcats defend Will Yeguete #15 of the Florida Gators during the game at Rupp Arena on February 7, 2012 in Lexington, Kentucky. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

If there was any lingering doubt out there as to who the best team in the SEC is, Kentucky put it to bed with its emphatic 78-58 win over Florida last night in Rupp Arena.

The Wildcats' offense was stellar, shooting 52.7% from the field and 60% from three. Their defense was just as good on the other end, stifling the Gators' offense to the tune of 34.9% shooting from the field and 22.2% from downtown. Kentucky's play was crisp and made everything easy for itself and difficult for the visitors.

Florida, meanwhile, displayed many of the worst bad habits from any given Billy Donovan team. Guards were out of control, shooters jacked up bad threes, and the defense lost assignments at the worst possible times. It was a particularly bad night for senior Erving Walker. He shot 0-7 on the night, failed to make it to the free throw line, and had two turnovers versus just one assist.

Kentucky's Anthony Davis, meanwhile, had another brilliant night. His 16 points were two shy of the game high, and he controlled the paint on defense with four blocks and a number of other changed shots. Doron Lamb had the 18 points for the Wildcats (tied with UF's Kenny Boynton for the game-high) and was a particularly lethal four-of-five from beyond the arc.

It's important not to read too, too much into the game's outcome. The Wildcats have yet to lose in Rupp under John Calipari, and they can make games spiral out of control for their opponents there in ways that don't happen elsewhere. Plus, this team is going to hammer anyone and everyone when it makes 60% of its three pointers (season percentage: 37.9%). Florida has a troubling habit of playing poorly on the road that it will have to correct down the stretch, but it's not the bad team that UK made it look like last night.

That said, it's completely fair to ask whether this team will lose again the rest of the way. It still has road games at Vanderbilt, Mississippi State, and Florida plus another home matchup with Vandy, so it's not like the schedule is a complete cakewalk. Still though, when this team is on, it's unbeatable. Its only loss to Indiana is looking more like a glitch in the Matrix than anything.

Last year's Kentucky team made it to the Final Four on sweat, grit, and a bit of overachievement as a 4-seed. This year, it's probably going to be a tournament favorite as a 1-seed (if not the No. 1 overall seed). If last year's run to Houston was a bit of a bonus, falling short of a run to New Orleans this year would be a disappointment.

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