Florida delivered its biggest road win in more than 20 years Wednesday at Rupp Arena, knocking off No. 10 Kentucky 94-91 in overtime. The upset was the Gators’ first road victory vs. a top-10 team since knocking off No. 7 Mississippi State in 2003.
Florida guard Walter Clayton Jr. knocked down a 3-pointer with :05 remaining in regulation to send the game to the extra period and then hit the go-ahead shot from distance with 1:42 left to take the lead back for good.
The Gators (15-6, 5-3 SEC) lost to Kentucky in a nail-biter earlier this month at home in the SEC opener for both teams. Florida was previously 0-3 against Top 25 opponents.
Clayton scored a team-high 23 points for the Gators. Tyrese Samuel added 22 points and Zyon Pullin chipped in 21.
Kentucky (15-5, 5-3) came into the game shorthanded. The Wildcats were missing star freshmen D.J. Wagner and Justin Edwards days after guard Rob Dillingham missed Saturday’s win at Arkansas because of a stomach bug.
The Wildcats have gone 3-3 in their last six games and all three losses have come to unranked opponents. Kentucky was previously 10-1 at home before suffering its first defeat at home since falling to UNC Wilmington on Dec. 2.
Reed Sheppard scored a game-high 24 points and Dillingham scored 20. Kentucky got a valiant effort from forward Ugonna Onyenso, who recorded 13 points, 16 rebounds and eight blocks.
Kentucky plays host to No. 5 Tennessee next on Saturday. The Vols are coming off a loss to South Carolina.
Big night for Gators trio
Walter Clayton Jr., Tyrese Samuel and Zyon Pullin did something that hasn’t been done against a John Calipari coached-Kentucky team. They became the first trio of teammates to score 20+ points in a game inside Rupp Arena and it was only the third time that has happened against the UK program since the 2009-10 season.
Florida needed every single one of those points to pull off the upset.
This win changes Florida’s season. Not only was this the Gators’ first win over a ranked opponent, but also their first win over a Quad 1 team this season. With the Gators projected to be a potential NCAA Tournament bubble team, this win could end up being the difference between them being in or not. This will go down as one of the best wins in the Todd Golden era at Florida. It couldn’t have come at a better time.
Kentucky remains a mystery
Disclaimer: Kentucky was playing on Wednesday without Justin Edwards and D.J. Wagner, but this is still a game UK should win if they want to make a run at a national title. Wagner has been good for Kentucky during the last month, while Edwards (who was the program’s highest-rated signee) hasn’t lived up to his potential. Again, this is a game Kentucky should win against an unranked opponent at home. No excuses.
The Wildcats defense is a weakness. Kentucky’s offense is fun. On one night, Kentucky looks like a team that can make a Final Four run because of the talent on the roster while simultaneously looking like a team headed for another first-weekend exit the following game. Florida played Kentucky close in the SEC opener in Gainesville but Kentucky survived behind a big 3-pointer by Aaron Bradshaw and clutch free-throws down the stretch by Sheppard.
Kentucky’s next game against Tennessee will be telling. Both teams are coming off midweek losses to unranked opponents. Saturday will be a must-win if either team has hopes of winning the SEC title.