Kentucky vs. Florida score: Live game updates, college basketball scores, highlights

The final five victories in Kentucky’s recent eight-game winning streak all came by single-digits. It was a streak that propelled the Wildcats to their highest ranking in the AP Top 25 since mid-December.

On Tuesday, it finally looked like the Wildcats were going to blow someone out as they opened up a 17-point second-half lead over Tennessee at home. Then, the Volunteers roared back and outscored Kentucky by 25 the rest of the way to hand the Wildcats a wake-up call to begin March.

Now, comes a big test for Kentucky as it travels to face a Florida team that can secure a double-bye in the SEC Tournament and enhance its NCAA Tournament resume with a win. Can Kentucky, which has already secured the SEC regular-season title, bounce back? Or will it enter the postseason on a two-game slide?

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Kentucky: The Wildcats were “manhandled” in the second half against Tennessee, coach John Calipari said. Well, there’s no better place to put your fortitude to the test than at the O’Connell Center, where the Gators are 7-1 this season against SEC opponents. The Wildcats beat Florida 65-59 on Feb. 22. But that was in Lexington, and Immanuel Quickley scored 26 to lead the charge. Junior forward Nick Richards averaged 17.7 points and 9.7 rebounds over a 10-game span that included Kentucky’s first nine SEC games and a victory over Texas Tech. He is averaging just 11.9 points and 6.4 rebounds over his past eight games, though, as the Wildcats have become increasingly reliant on a trio of guards. Richards finished with nine points and six rebounds in the first game with Florida. A big game from the big man could help Kentucky find its mojo again.

Florida: Florida escaped the NCAA Tournament bubble with an authoritative, 68-54 win at Georgia on Wednesday, according to CBS Sports Bracketology Expert Jerry Palm. But the Gators enter Saturday’s game as a projected No. 9 seed with a 3-8 record in Quadrant 1 games. Those three victories are against South Carolina, Xavier and Providence. The South Carolina win was on the road, while the Providence and Xavier wins came at neutral sites. But a win over Kentucky — even if it is at home — would stand out on the Gators’ resume and indicate they might be peaking at the right time after a mostly disappointing season following their preseason No. 6 ranking. It’s been over a month since the Gators allowed an opponent to reach 70 points. If they can keep the suffocating defense up for one more game, it will bode well for their chances against Kentucky.

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Game prediction, pick 

Latest odds via SportsLine: Florida -4  

Kentucky was one of the hottest teams in the country until a humbling loss on Tuesday against Tennessee. The Wildcats have already secured the SEC regular season title, but Calipari will demand urgency from his team so it does not enter the postseason with the foul stench of that loss to the Volunteers lingering overhead. Pick: KENTUCKY +4

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