Mar 10, 2012; New Orleans, LA, USA; Florida Gators forward/center Patric Young (4) is defended by Kentucky Wildcats guard Darius Miller (1) and forward Anthony Davis (behind) during the first half of the third round of the 2012 SEC Tournament at the New Orleans Arena. Mandatory Credit: Crystal LoGiudice-US PRESSWIRE

Kentucky Wildcats 74 - Florida Gators 71; Gators Fall Short In Valiant Effort

Yet another reason why we all love March. The Kentucky Wildcats were too much for the Florida Gators on Saturday, but it was a game that showed the talent both of these teams possess and even if the good guys didn’t come out on top, it’s just another example of what makes this time of year great.

Florida won’t head to the SEC Championship Game after falling 74-71 to Kentucky, but the Gators may have secured a 5-seed in the NCAA Tournament with their play. It was a back and forth game at times and one during which Florida was able to build a big lead at points. Unfortunately a run at the end of the first half and another at about the midway point of the second half by Kentucky allowed the Wildcats to get back in it and then pull away.

The Gators continued to fight though and despite being down nine at one point late made it a game until the very end. That end didn’t give us the desired result we were all looking for, but it may have made us a little more excited for the Gators’ next game than we already were.

The Gators were led by junior forward Erik Murphy who was brilliant on the offensive end of the court. Murphy shot 9-for-11 from the field and connected on all four of his three-point attempts. He finished with 24 points which led Florida. Freshman guard Bradley Beal found his shooting touch as well and finished with 20 points. With eight rebounds, five assists and no turnovers to go along with those points, Beal may have been the best player on the court for the Gators.

Florida now goes into wait mode. The Gators will find out their tourney fate soon enough, but the flight back to Gainesville will be a long one. There are a lot of positives Florida and Billy Donovan can take from this game, one of which is hanging tight with the nation’s best team. Keep the momentum going from the past two games and a tournament run isn’t completely out of the question.

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Tags: Billy Donovan Bradley Beal Erik Murphy Florida Basketball Florida Gators Kentucky Wildcats NCAA Tournament SEC SEC Tournament

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