Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

BREAKTHROUGH; Gators Defeat Wildcats for First Time since 2001

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

BREAKTHROUGH; Gators Defeat Wildcats for First Time since 2001

Article excerpt

Byline: Michael DiRocco, The Times-Union

GAINESVILLE -- David Lee ran across the court, leaped onto press row and raised his arms toward the student section.

Corey Brewer took off toward the opposite basket, jumped into the air, then also ended up standing on press row.

Adrian Moss was right behind him, throwing his arms around Lee.

Matt Walsh stayed on the court, but he flung the basketball -- which he had rebounded after Kelenna Azubuike missed a potential game-winning 3-pointer -- into the stands.

Anthony Roberson tore off his jersey and swung it over his head.

The only thing missing after Florida's 53-52 upset of No. 3 Kentucky in front of a record 12,602 at the O'Connell Center on Sunday afternoon was a little of the Kool & the Gang song Celebration. Otherwise, it was a pretty good celebration of the Gators' first win over the Wildcats in nine tries.

"That," said Lee, who was winless in his career against Kentucky, "was four years in the making."

Maybe even a little longer than that.

"It was the greatest win of my life," Walsh said.

It was arguably one of the biggest wins for the Gators (20-7, 12-4 SEC) since reaching the NCAA title game in 2000. UF hadn't beaten Kentucky (23-4, 14-2 SEC) since March 4, 2001, and the Gators were embarrassed in two of their last three trips to Rupp Arena, including a 15-point loss one day after earning the program's first No. 1 ranking in February 2003.

The Gators won because they did the things the Wildcats usually do against them: They made a few big plays and shots down the stretch.

Walsh converted a three-point play with 1:29 to play, then hit a deep 3-pointer with 47.5 seconds left to cut Kentucky's lead to 52-51. Roberson stole the ball from Patrick Sparks and, after being fouled by Sparks, made a pair of free throws with 15.2 seconds remaining to give the Gators the lead. Brewer denied Azubuike the lane and forced the 3-point shot that missed.

"Florida made the big plays down the stretch," said Kentucky coach Tubby Smith, whose Wildcats had won 49 of their past 53 SEC games (including postseason) before Sunday. …

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