Roberson helps Gators snap losing streak against Kentucky
Gainesville, FL (Sports Network) - Anthony Roberson scored a game-high 21 points and converted both ends of a one-and-one with 15.2 seconds remaining to give Florida a 53-52 victory over third-ranked Kentucky at the O'Connell Center.
David Lee contributed 11 points and 10 rebounds for the Gators, while Matt Walsh scored five of his 11 points in the closing minutes to help Florida rally from a four-point deficit.
Kentucky held a 49-45 lead with just over two minutes to play after a basket by Chuck Hayes.
Walsh then finished off a three-point play to make it a one-point game, but Patrick Sparks answered with his first three-pointer of the game for Kentucky. Walsh, though, drilled a shot from well behind the arc with 48 seconds left to again draw Florida within one.
The Wildcats worked the shot clock down, but Sparks was stripped of the ball by Roberson. Sparks followed with a frustration foul on Roberson, who converted both free throws to put Florida ahead 53-52.
Kentucky advanced the ball past midcourt and called timeout with 11 seconds to play, setting up a shot for Kelenna Azubuike, who missed from the top of the key just before time expired.
Florida (20-7, 12-4 SEC), which had lost eight straight to Kentucky, finished the regular season with four straight wins and will head to the SEC Tournament with a bye as the second seed from the Eastern Division.
"It was the greatest win of my life," said Walsh.
Kentucky (23-4, 14-2) had won four straight since its lone conference loss at South Carolina on February 15 and will be the top seed from the East in the SEC tourney.
Hayes was the lone Wildcat in double figures with 11 points. Azubuike, the team's leading scorer, was held to nine on just 4-of-10 from the field.
Florida took its largest lead of the game at five points, 39-34, with 10 1/2 minutes remaining on a dunk by Lee. Five minutes later, the Gators still led by four at 43-39.
Azubuike followed with the next five points, draining a three-pointer from the right wing to give Kentucky a 44-43 edge. A basket by Corey Brewer put Florida back on top, but only momentarily as the Wildcats followed with the next five points for a four-point edge that set up the dramatic finish.
"Florida made big plays down the stretch," said Kentucky head coach Tubby Smith. "That's what it's all about. In a tight, tough game like this, you've got to make plays. They did and we didn't."
Florida scored the first seven points, five by Roberson, and Kentucky didn't make a basket until Ramel Bradley's three-pointer five minutes into the contest. The Wildcats took their first lead at 11-10 midway through the half and a three-pointer by Ravi Moss at the 8:20 mark gave them their largest advantage at 14-10.
A three-pointer by Roberson a few minutes later put Florida back on top 19-17, but Kentucky followed with eight of the next 10 points for a 25-21 lead. Roberson, though, scored the last five points of the half, and finished with 13 in the opening 20 minutes, as Florida took a 26-25 edge to the locker room.
The lead changed hands a couple of times early in the second half, but the Gators ran off seven straight points to open a four-point edge. Lee Humphrey's three-pointer with 12 1/2 minutes left gave Florida a 36-32 lead.FLORIDA KENTUCKY