Kentucky came into the SEC Championship game today with many questions about their team. The biggest question was could Kentucky overcome three ankle injuries against the SEC regular season champions, Florida.
Kentucky came out hot against Florida, getting off to a 9-3 lead. The Gators eventually battled back, taking a three point lead at 24-21 midway through the opening half.
However energy off the bench from Eloy Vargas and inspiring effort from an injured Doron Lamb boosted the Wildcats to a 34-29 lead at the half.
Lamb turned his ankle late in Saturday’s win over Alabama only seconds after junior guard DeAndre Liggins also turned an ankle. To top it off, Terrence Jones suffered an ankle injury during Kentucky’s opening game against Ole Miss.
All three players stepped up their games in this contest. Jones finished with 15 points and seven rebounds. Liggins had 10 points, five rebounds and three assists. And Lamb provided an early spark with six first half points.
But the story of the game turned out to be junior Darius Miller. Miller came out early in the second half and set the tone by scoring Kentucky’s first five points and pushing the Kentucky lead to double digits, where it remained for the majority second half.
On the day Miller (who was named SEC Tournament MVP) had 15 points, six rebounds, two blocks and an assist as he took on SEC Player of the Year Chandler Parsons.
Freshman Brandon Knight was his usual steady self, knocking down two three pointers and scoring 17 points and dishing out four assists. Knight and Miller joined senior center Josh Harrellson on the SEC All-Tournament Team.
When the dust settled, Kentucky pulled out the victory 70-54.
Florida only put a single player into double digits. Sophomore guard Kenny Boynton scored 10 points had five assists. Chandler Parson had nine points and 10 rebounds in the loss for the Gators.
Kentucky now waits for the announcement of their seed in the NCAA Tournament. The Wildcats appear to be a lock for at least a four seed, but likely will wind up as a three seed.