LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — Tyler Herro scored 16 points and led a big second-half run that helped No. 6 Kentucky overcome Florida 66-57 on Saturday.
The Wildcats (26-5, 15-3 Southeastern Conference) went back and forth with the Gators (17-14, 9-9) early in the second half and trailed 40-39 with 13:46 remaining.
Herro had six points during a 15-2 spree, hitting a couple of shots in the lane and adding two free throws, to give Kentucky a 54-42 advantage. The Wildcats capped the seven-minute burst by scoring 10 straight points.
PJ Washington added 15 points as Kentucky handed Florida its third consecutive loss. The victory earned the Wildcats a share of second place with Tennessee in the SEC, pending LSU’s later game. It was regular-season wrapup for the Wildcats and Gators going into the SEC Tournament.
Herro was 6 of 11 from the field and made all four free throws as Kentucky hit 26 of 32 from the line. Ashton Hagans and Keldon Johnson each added 14 points, and Washington’s nine rebounds helped the Wildcats dominate the boards 39-23.
Kevarrius Hayes had 19 points and Jalen Hudson 13 for Florida, which overcame a nine-point first half deficit to lead at the break. A 5:12 drought in the second half did in the Gators.
Kentucky took a step toward getting back in the Top 5 with the win that took more work than expected.
Florida: The Gators held their own in the second of consecutive games against Top 10 schools but couldn’t finish with a win. They appeared to make Kentucky play at their pace and from behind for a good stretch before going cold, and weren’t able to recover in shooting 44 percent.
Kentucky: The Wildcats got through the home stretch 4-1 without Reid Travis, who missed his fifth consecutive game with a sprained right knee. But a wakeup call they survived by getting hot midway through the second half.
Florida will play Wednesday in the second round of the SEC Tournament in Nashville.
Kentucky plays in next Friday’s quarterfinal at the SEC Tournament in Nashville.
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