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Kentucky vs. Florida Part 2: TV/Streaming Info, Keys to the Game, and Predictions



Kentucky Wildcats guard Antonio Reeves (12) celebrates with guard Reed Sheppard (15) after making a three point shot against Arkansas.
© Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Coming off a two-game road trip, the Kentucky Wildcats will return to Rupp Arena for a two-game home stand, starting with the Florida Gators on Wednesday night. This will be the second and last regular season matchup between the two teams, with the Wildcats beating the Gators in a close one in Gainesville, in their SEC opener, 87-85.

The last two games for Kentucky have been interesting. They put up their worst performance of the season against South Carolina and followed it up with a first half where they scored just 24 points against Arkansas. That said, they arguably played their best defense of the year against the Razorbacks and showed a lot of maturity to get that win in a College Gameday environment.

As for the Gators, they have won three straight, the second-longest streak in the SEC. That said, they are a team that struggles on the road, with just a 1-3 record and an average margin of defeat of 15.3 points.


Kentucky has beaten Florida in 10 of the last 11 matchups, including 4 of the last 5 in Lexington. While the Cats will be expected to win again, it won’t come easy. Let’s take a look at the matchup.


Just like the first matchup, rebounding will be a major factor in this game. Florida is still the best rebounding team in the country, averaging more than 44.5 per game. In their last game against Georgia, they outrebounded them by 21. For comparison, Kentucky only outrebounded Georgia by one in their win over them earlier this month.

The Wildcats have been a middle-of-the-road rebounding team this season, ranked 7th in the SEC. That said, they certainly have the size to rebound well, but at times lack the desire and physicality, both areas they have shown improvement in of late. The big especially will have to get Micah Handlogten out of position, who grabbed six offensive rebounds in the first matchup.

Defensive Consistency

As bad as last week’s performances were for Kentucky on offense, the strides in defense could be seen, holding opponents to under 41 percent shooting in back-to-back games for the first time this season. Their defensive KenPom rating jumped 20+ spots, but can they keep it up against the 13th most efficient offense in the country?


Kentucky will first have to stop Florida in transition, which is where they were successful in Gainesville and gained a lot of their momentum. If they are successful in that, then it’s about fighting through screens and staying between the ball and the basket when Florida gets in their half-court sets. That said, Walter Clayton and Will Richard are two of the best shooters in the SEC.

If Kentucky plays with the communication and urgency they have shown of late, it will show that they are trending in the right direction.


In his weekly call-in show, John Calipari talked about why he played so many lineups last week. “Play everybody in the first half and figure out who needs to play in this game,” he said. While he acknowledges February is here and there is not much practice time left, he finally has a full roster and is looking for some combinations and lineups that work.

The one lineup that Calipari mentioned several times was: DJ Wagner-Reed Sheppard-Antonio Reeves-Tre Mitchell-Ugonna Onyenso. They were “REALLY good,” Calipari said, and even said that that may be Kentucky’s best defensive/finishing lineup right now.


It is clear that Wagner-Sheppard-Reeves-Mitchell is the base of the lineup right now, with the fifth rotating depending on the matchup and it will be interesting to see who challenges and cements themself there.

Opposing Players to Watch

G Walter Clayton Jr, 6-2, 195 lbs

  • 15.9 PPG (8th in SEC)
  • 3.8 RPG
  • 2.8 APG
  • 44 3PM (T-7th in SEC)

G Zyon Pullin, 6-4, 206 lbs

  • 14.9 PPG (14th in SEC)
  • 4.8 APG (2nd in SEC)
  • 3.6 RPG
  • 38.1% 3P (T-12th SEC)

G Riley Kugel, 6-5, 207 lbs (In three career games vs Kentucky)

  • 15 PPG
  • 48.2% FG
  • 50% 3P
  • 1.7 SPG

Kentucky Wildcats Basketball vs. Florida Gators

  • Date: January 31st, 2024
  • Time: 8:00 pm ET
  • Location: Rupp Arena at Central Bank Center in Lexington, KY.
  • TV Channel: ESPN
  • Announcers: Dan Shulman and Jay Bilas
  • Online Stream: WatchESPN and the ESPN app.
  • Radio: Tom Leach and Jack Givens have the UK radio call on the UK Sports Radio Network.
  • Replay: WatchESPN and the SEC Network (check local listings).
  • Rosters: UK | FLA
  • Stats to Know: UK | FLA
  • KenPom: UK | FLA
  • Odds: ESPN’s matchup predictor is much more confident in Kentucky than it was when they traveled to Gainesville, giving them a 71.4% chance to win. Bart Torvik and EvanMiya are in the same ballpark, still favoring the Cats by 67% and 69%.
  • Predictions: All the projects expect Kentucky to win in a high-scoring contest. Bart Torvik and EvanMiya have the Cats by five points, 92-87 and 88-83, respectively. Haslametrics gives Kentucky a little more cushion, 91-84.

Also published on A Sea of Blue.


Men's Basketball

Lamont Butler Believes In Mark Pope And Will “Do Whatever It Takes To Put A Number Nine Up In Those Rafters”



Lamont Butler transferred to Kentucky to prove that his more than just a defender.
Photo by Eddie Justice | UK Athletics

Lamont Butler has proven himself as one of the premier defenders in college basketball over the last four seasons at San Diego State, having earned MWC All-Defense honors in three straight seasons and winning the 2024 MWC Defensive Player of the Year Award.

With that level of defensive impact, Butler had no shortage of interest when he put his name in the transfer portal this Spring. In less than 48 hours after officially entering the portal, he had his decision, choosing Kentucky and becoming just the second commit of the Mark Pope era.

Butler’s parents, Lamont Butler Sr. and Carmicha Butler, recently spoke to KSR about how the family decided on Kentucky and what kind of player and young man the Wildcats are getting.


“I can start off simply by saying that it’s Kentucky,” Lamont Sr. said. “Most kids in America, if they ever got the opportunity to play for a program like that, any kid would jump at it. With Lamont being in the position in life that he put himself in, it was the perfect move for him.”

While the brand of Kentucky Basketball is a big selling point, and one that Pope is emphasizing more than Calipari did, it was not the only selling point. The other big part was how Butler was going to be used at Kentucky, and Pope and his staff hopped on a plane to Las Vegas where he was working out, to do just that.

“We were at the gym working out, when, all of a sudden, we see the men in black coming in,” Lamont Sr. said. “I’m like, wow. It was the whole kit and caboodle. They were serious about Lamont.”

Before meeting with Butler and his family, Pope was already very familiar with his game having competed against him for three seasons at San Diego State in the MWC, and that certainly showed.


“He practically broke Lamont’s game down,” Carmicha said. “He told him how he played, who he is, how he wanted to use him, his plans for him at Kentucky, and what he wanted to do with him. For me, it was amazing for Pope, who he never played for, to know that much detail about my son, on and off the court. That was a major plus, a major benefit.” 

Pope’s plan for Butler though is to show off his full game. While he is known as a defender, there is much more to his game, with his father highlighting his unselfishness and leadership.

“Lamont is the type of player who’s unselfish to a fault,” Lamont Sr. said. “I was telling someone, that Lamont scored 1,000 points but would’ve passed those 1,000 points up to make the right play. There are too many selfish players in the world. Everybody wants me, me, me, me, me. Lamont is about us, us, us. I told him that’s what’s going to take him far in life.” 

Those two characteristics are a big reason why Pope wants Butler on the ball, rather than off the ball which was the case most of the time he was at San Diego State.


“It doesn’t matter to Lamont, but Pope is going to have him on the ball. That’s what a lot of people don’t know,” Lamont Sr. said. “That’s what it’s going to be, to lead the team and make sure he’s playing faster than he’s ever played.”

The primary thing though, Kentucky fans are getting a player who is willing to do whatever it takes to put another banner in the rafters.

“They’re getting somebody who’s going to give it his all on the court, injured or not,” Lamont Sr. said. “He’s going to be out there and do whatever it takes to put a number nine up in those rafters. That’s what Lamont is coming to do.”

Also published on A Sea of Blue.


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Men's Basketball

Trent Noah Says He Looks up to His Friend Reed Sheppard, On and Off the Court



Noah: UK Athletics, Sheppard: Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports

The level of high school basketball talent in Kentucky is the best it has been in several years. Last year, Kentucky fans got to witness the emergence of Reed Sheppard, and they are hopeful more of “Kentucky’s own” can help the Wildcats on the court under Mark Pope. Two such players are coming in next season, Mr. Kentucky Basketball Travis Perry of Lyon County, and Trent Noah of Harlan County.

The latter was recently interviewed by a fellow Kentucky native and former Wildcat, Cameron Mills, and the UK Sports Network. In that interview Noah not only talked about his excitement to join his home-state program and preparation for this coming season, but he also talked about looking up his friend and former teammate Reed Sheppard.

“He’s (Sheppard) such a great player. One of the best I have ever been around,” Noah told Mills. That just doesn’t stop off the court either. “He is a really good person. A really good friend. Someone I look up to.”


Noah is just one year younger than Sheppard, but both are from the 13th region and the two formed a friendship when they were teammates for two seasons in the Adidas 3SSB Circuit with Midwest Basketball Club. What does Noah look up to Sheppard most for?

“He’s such a great leader. He’s always leading by actions. He just knows how to play. He has that natural gift. He’s always in the right spot at the right time. He obviously shoots the cover off the ball.”

Noah notes that to take some of those attributes and apply them to his game wouldn’t do anything but help them.

Toward the end of the interview, Mills asked Noah a theoretical question: “In an NBA-style three-point contest, who’s winning, you or Reed?”


We know that Sheppard just shot the third-best three-point percentage in Kentucky basketball history, but he shot just over 30 percent in high school. Whereas Noah shot 43% (102-237) from 3-point range as a senior. With that, Noah is taking himself. “He can shoot it, but I don’t know if I can say he would beat me.”

It’s pretty cool to see the connection that Kentucky’s own have with the program and share with each other. Check out the full interview below!

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BB Recruiting

2025 Five Star, Potential Reclass Candidate Will Riley Begins Kentucky Visit



2025 five star prospect and reclass candidate, Will Riley, takes his official visit to Kentucky June 4th-6th.

Will Riley, one of the top rising seniors in the class of 2025, is set to begin a two-day official visit to Kentucky on Tuesday. This was first reported by Kentucky Insider last week.

The 6-foot-8 small forward out of Malvern, PA, is currently down to five schools: Kentucky, Arkansas, Arizona, Illinois, and Alabama, and is leaving the possibility of playing professionally in the NBL in Australia. Riley is coming off a visit to Illinois and will visit Alabama later this week.

Already considered a consensus Top 25 prospect in the country according to 247 Sports, ESPN, and Rival, Riley’s stock is only continuing to rise. His calling card is his scoring ability and he has put that on display this Spring.


Through the first four sessions of the Nike EYBL circuit, he is averaging 21.9 points per game, on fairly efficient numbers, shooting 49.6 % from the field,  31.7 % from three-point range, and 79 % from free throws. Riley also adds 4.7 rebounds per game and 2.5 assists per game in just under 30 minutes.

A possible reclass candidate, Riley is considering making the jump from the 2025 class to the 2024 class. That decision is yet to be determined, adding an element of suspense to his potential future in college basketball.

With one current scholarship remaining for the upcoming roster, Kentucky is open to Riley reclassing and joining this year’s roster, underlining the significance of his potential addition to the team.

However, Jaxson Robinson’s commitment makes it less likely that Kentucky would be the choice if he does reclass. If he decides to remain in the 2025 class, Kentucky would remain toward the top of his list.


Does Riley become the first top 25 recruit in the Mark Pope era?

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