Kentucky freshman Brandon Knight had 24 points and looked like a future lottery pick; Chandler Parsons simply got his Florida Gators the win.
It was a battle of young talent versus experience when the #11 Wildcats (16-6, 4-4 SEC) visited the #23 Gators (18-5, 7-2 SEC) Saturday night. However, it was Florida’s depth and Parsons’ senior leadership that prevailed in a 70-68 win.
Parsons recorded his fifth double-double of the season in the win, but his presence couldn’t be measured in statistics. Parsons flew through blocks and provided clutch plays throughout the game. When the game was on the line he was able to hit highlight reel shots, and personally reached out to the crowd to get them to believe Florida could win.
However, it wasn’t a one man show for the Gators. Florida’s go-to hero and leading scorer on the season, Erving Walker, was quiet in first half. That’s where 17-year-old Scottie Wilbekin came in. Wilbekin had nine points, all in the first half, and provided his team with a much needed spark to fill in for Walker’s production. Alex Tyus was held scoreless in the first half, but when Wilbekin cooled off Tyus stepped in. The seasoned play of Parsons and Tyus was the anchor that allowed the Gators to hold off the late game rally by Kentucky’s freshmen.
The game was a heavily contested battle between two very good, but different, teams. Both teams finished the game with 32 rebounds. Both teams took big leads at one point in the game, but duked it out at the very end. Kentucky led for most of the first half, while Florida was in control for most of the second half.
There were a few stats that Florida held in its favor that played into their win. The Gators are now 15-1 when they are able to hold opponents under 70 points. Florida also got a huge contribution from the free throw line. The Gators shot 81.8% from the line, and made 5-6 key free throws in the game’s final three minutes to help secure the win.
Kentucky depended very heavily on its youth. Freshmen Terrence Jones and Knight combined for 42 points and often looked quicker and more agile than the aged Gators. Knight led the Wildcats with 24 points, while Jones added 14.
Parsons led the Gators on offense with 17 points, while Kenny Boynton added 12 and Vernon Macklin scored 11. Parsons was also the anchor of the Gators defense with 12 rebounds.
Coach Billy Donovan believes that the test of the Gators maturity against adversity is yet to come. He believes that the challenge will be keeping focused after a big win such as Kentucky.
The Gators now travel to South Carolina to face a Gamecock team that they have already lost to once at home this season.
About the Author
Written by John Weidner
My name is John Weidner, and I am a Communications major at the University of North Florida. I have always had a talent for writing and communicating ideas in unique ways to others. Right now, I am learning more about how to cover and discuss different topics and ideas in the world of journalism. I consider myself a sports journalist but also am interested in covering anything that is newsworthy. I have been gaining experience as a journalist since I first joined the staff of my high school newspaper in tenth grade. I have written for numerous publications including: The Florida Times-Union, The Falcon Flyer, The UNF Spinnaker, La Plaza Magazine ,Jacksonville.com and The Ponte Vedra Recorder. I am also working on gaining other non-traditional forms of experience through different ways and am open to any opportunity that can be used as a learning experience.