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No. 6 Kentucky slips past Florida in SEC opener

no.-6-kentucky-slips-past-florida-in-sec-opener

Aaron Bradshaw hit a go-ahead 3-pointer with 1:27 remaining to help No. 6 Kentucky post an 87-85 victory over Florida on Saturday afternoon at Gainesville, Fla., in the Southeastern Conference opener for both teams.

Antonio Reeves led the Wildcats (11-2) with 19 points, while D.J. Wagner and Reed Sheppard finished with 14 apiece. Tre Mitchell supplied 12 points and 10 rebounds for Kentucky.

Zyon Pullin and Walter Clayton Jr. each poured in 23 points for the Gators (10-4), who also got 15 points from Riley Kugel before he fouled out. Micah Handlogten paired 12 rebounds with six points for Florida.

Clayton made two free throws with 3:10 left to put the Gators ahead 76-74, but Florida wouldn’t score again until Pullin made good on a three-point play with 30 seconds to go.

Reeves delivered a runner in the lane for Kentucky to tie the game at 76. After Bradshaw’s go-ahead 3-pointer, the Wildcats sandwiched four free throws around Pullin’s three-point play to make it 83-79 with 19 seconds remaining.

Pullin added two more foul shots and a layup, but Sheppard canned four free throws in the final eight seconds to help Kentucky hold on for the victory.

The Gators’ Alex Condon was fouled on a 3-point attempt with 0.4 seconds remaining. He made the first two free throws and missed the third intentionally, but Florida failed to get a last-second tip-in.

It took the Wildcats just over 4 1/2 minutes to completely erase a seven-point halftime deficit, with Wagner’s 3-pointer putting the visitors up 51-49 with 15:22 left in the game.

Clayton then converted a three-point play to ignite a 9-0 run that allowed Florida to re-establish its seven-point lead. Kentucky got within one twice, but when the 9:42 mark rolled around, the Gators were up 65-59 following a pair of free throws from Clayton.

Neither team led by more than five over the game’s final 9:05.

Kugel and Condon accounted for all of the scoring during an 11-2 run that gave Florida a 19-12 edge with 11:36 left in the first half.

The Wildcats responded, pulling even at 27 after a Ugonna Onyenso free throw with 7:39 remaining.

But the Gators dominated the rest of the half, scoring 18 of the period’s final 28 points to take a 45-37 advantage into the break.

Kentucky outshot Florida 45.6 percent to 42.6 percent for the game.

–Field Level Media

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