Wednesday, January 30, 2002

Lineup shakeup puts UK in mix

3 starters sit as Cats pick up game in East race

The Associated Press

        GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Before No.10 Kentucky played fifth-ranked Florida, Wildcats coach Tubby Smith said no job was safe, and he benched three starters to make his point.

        But Keith Bogans may have won back his starting position.

        Bogans scored 14 of his 20 points in the second half and Tayshaun Prince added 19 points and 10 rebounds as the Wildcats sent the Gators to their third straight loss, 70-68 Tuesday night.

        Prince broke a 63-all tie with a free throw, and his assist led to Bogans' 3-pointer for a four-point lead with 1:28 to go.

        The Wildcats (14-5 overall, 4-3 Southeastern Conference) had to bounce back from Saturday's 64-61 loss to Alabama, had to overcome a raucous crowd in a sweltering arena and had to battle back from an early deficit. That was Smith's intent when he benched Bogans, Gerald Fitch and Jules Camara.

        “I really couldn't be prouder of the guys,” Smith said. “I really thought they hung in there and overcame some things, some issues to start the game.”

        After Bogans' shot, Orien Greene hit a 3-pointer to make it a one-point game. But Prince responded again — his floating jumper from the left baseline put the Wildcats up 69-66.

        Florida (15-4, 4-3) blew repeated chances to cut UK's lead or tie in the closing seconds. Udonis Haslem came up empty on two free throws with 30 seconds remaining and Brett Nelson missed a tying jumper in the final seconds.

        “I give (Brett) credit for stepping up and trying to make the play,” Florida coach Billy Donovan said. “I thought we had a good shot to win the game.”

        Nelson led Florida with 15 points, Haslem added 14 and Greene had 13.

        The Gators, which won a school-record 14 straight games earlier this season, are on their longest losing streak since 1997-98.

        “I don't understand why the losses keep happening,” said Haslem, who had only two points on one shot in the first half. “We could have, and should have, done so much better.”

        Kentucky built an eight-point lead early in the second half behind Prince, but Florida rallied to tie. Matt Bonner's three-point play capped off an 8-0 run and tied the score at 47 with 11:55 remaining.

        In the first half, Florida's misfiring offense allowed Kentucky to creep within a point of the lead going into the break. Prince's buzzer-beating 3-pointer cut the deficit to 31-30, and gave him 10 points in the half.

        “Florida had a two-game losing streak, and we wanted to do our best to keep it that way,” said Prince, who shot 7-for-15 with three 3-pointers.

       UK 3040—70 UF 3137—68

        Attendance— 12,212 . 3-point goals— UK 6-20 (Prince 3-6, Hawkins 0-1, Hayes 0-1, Carruth 0-3, Fitch 0-1, Bogans 3-8) UF 10-24 (Bonner 0-3, Greene 3-5, Hamilton 1-2, White 1-4, Nelson 5-9, Halton 0-1). Technical fouls— None. Officials— Gerald Boudreaux, Karl Hess, Joe Lindsay.


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