Wednesday, February 07, 2001

Red-hot Kentucky beats No.8 Florida


Prince's late shot lifts Wildcats 71-70

The Associated Press

        LEXINGTON Tayshaun Prince thought he was coming off the week of his life.

        The 6-foot-9 junior made 19 of 32 shots and scored 52 points in road wins over Georgia and South Carolina last week to thrust Kentucky into first place in the Southeastern Conference's Eastern Division.

        He scored only 19 against division-rival Florida on Tuesday night, but the final two may have been the biggest of his career. His running hook shot in the lane with 3.3 seconds remaining gave Kentucky a 71-70 victory over the eighth-ranked Gators.

        “When I get close to the paint, I'm putting the shot up,” Prince said. “I've been shooting that shot for a long time. I'm used to that shot and I practice it all the time.

        “You have to remain calm in those types of situations. You have to be patient. Our team was patient, and that's why the shot was open for me at the end of the game.”

        The victory was the fourth straight for Kentucky (14-7, 7-2) and strengthened its hold on first place in the division over Georgia and Florida (15-5, 5-4). It also was Tubby Smith's 100th as Kentucky's coach.

        “With the atmosphere and what was on the line, we knew it would be a great game,” said Smith, who reached 100 wins faster than any Kentucky coach since Adolph Rupp.

        “Billy Donovan plays an up-tempo style; we play an up-tempo style. They are hot; we are hot. They're also a highly ranked team. All those story lines helped make it a great game.”

        Prince was 8-of-18 from the field and grabbed six rebounds.

        Freshman Gerald Fitch added 12 points and Jason Parker had 10 for the Wildcats, who have won 11 of 13 games — including five over ranked opponents — since a 3-5 start.

        Florida erased a 13-point deficit over the final 16 minutes and had a four-game winning streak snapped.

        “I thought we showed tremendous character and heart in the second half,” Florida coach Donovan said. “We played passionately and we were driven, the way I wanted us to play, and we had a chance to win.”

        Nelson's 3-pointer gave Florida a 70-67 lead with 1:51 remaining. Marvin Stone then scored inside for Kentucky with 1:35 to play to cut the lead to one.

        The Gators had two opportunities to score in the final 90 seconds but were turned away.

        Following a Kentucky timeout with 10.4 seconds to play, Prince took the ball on the right wing and drove into the lane. He hit the tough shot over 6-9 forward Brent Wright and Florida called a timeout as Prince's teammates mobbed him at midcourt.

        “I felt that Brent did as good of a job defending Tayshaun Prince as he could have,” Donovan said. “Give him credit. He made a terrific shot.”
       “He slipped and almost fell down but was able to regain his balance, get into the lane and take an off-balance shot that went in.”

        Nelson then took a pass at halfcourt but launched an off-balance shot while falling out of bounds as time expired.

        “I knew the ball was going out of bounds, so I tried to throw it toward the rim in the hope that someone would tip it in,” Nelson said.

        The Gators shot 44 percent to Kentucky's 41 percent and outrebounded the Wildcats 39-37.
       But they dug themselves an early hole, trailing by 14 at halftime, and then failed to put the game away with a three-point lead in the final two minutes.

        “We had a chance to win, but we couldn't pull it off,” said Haslem, who scored 15 points in the second half. “In this league, you have to play two complete halves. You can't win with just one.”

        Up 27-26, Prince scored five points during a 10-1 run as Kentucky took a 37-27 lead with just under three minutes remaining in the first half. A 6-0 run over the final 1:15 gave the Wildcats a 45-31 halftime lead.

        Florida scored the first six points of the second half to pull to 45-37. Following a 3-pointer by Prince and a layup by Keith Bogans, Haslem scored 10 of the Gators' next 12 points to cut the lead to 57-49 with 11:13 remaining.

        Dupay's long 3-pointer and Nelson's running jumper in the paint narrowed the gap to 57-54 with eight minutes left. Following a basket inside by Parker, Florida again scored six straight points to take its first lead of the half, 60-59, with 5:25 to play.


FLORIDA (70)
                      fg    ft    rb
               min   m-a   m-a   o-t  a pf   tp
Bonner          24  2-10   2-2  3-11  1  1    6
Parker          21   1-4   2-2   0-1  2  3    5
Haslem          27  6-11   3-4   1-6  1  3   15
Nelson          33  6-10   4-4   1-4  3  2   18
Halton          19   0-1   0-0   0-0  2  1    0
Wright          29   4-8   3-4  2-10  1  3   11
Greene          17   0-0   0-1   0-2  2  1    0
Dupay           30  5-10   2-3   0-3  0  1   15
_______________________________________________
TOTALS         200 24-54 16-20  7-37 12 15   70
_______________________________________________


Percentages: FG-.444, FT-.800. 3-Point Goals:
6-20, .300 (Bonner 0-2, Parker 1-4, Nelson 2-5,
Halton 0-1, Dupay 3-8). Team rebounds: 1. Blocked
shots: 4 (Haslem 3, Wright). Turnovers: 14
(Nelson 5, Wright 4, Bonner 2, Haslem 2, Halton).
Steals: 2 (Greene, Haslem).


KENTUCKY (71)
                      fg    ft    rb
               min   m-a   m-a   o-t  a pf   tp
Prince          35  8-18   1-1   1-6  2  1   19
Parker          22  5-10   0-2   3-9  1  1   10
Fitch           28   5-8   0-0   2-6  4  3   12
Bogans          34  3-12   2-2   0-2  2  3    9
Smith           38   1-8   2-2   0-1  3  1    5
Hawkins          2   0-1   0-0   0-0  0  0    0
Blevins         10   1-2   0-0   0-0  0  2    3
Daniels         11   1-1   1-3   2-5  1  2    3
Stone           15   3-5   2-2   1-6  1  1    8
Estill           5   0-1   2-2   0-0  0  2    2
_______________________________________________
TOTALS         200 27-66 10-14  9-35 14 16   71
_______________________________________________


Percentages: FG-.409, FT-.714. 3-Point Goals:
7-26, .269 (Prince 2-7, Fitch 2-3, Bogans 1-8,
Smith 1-5, Blevins 1-2, Estill 0-1). Team
rebounds: 2. Blocked shots: 2 (Prince, Estill).
Turnovers: 9 (Bogans 2, Fitch 2, Blevins,
Hawkins, Parker, Prince, Smith). Steals: 3 (Fitch
2, Prince).
__________________________________
Florida            31   39  -   70
Kentucky           45   26  -   71
__________________________________
Technical fouls: None.  A: 22,831. Officials: Jim
Burr, Tim Higgins, Carl Hess.


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