By LARRY VAUGHT
This time Kentucky didn’t let the lead get away.
After blowing a 21-point lead and losing at Tennessee Tuesday, Kentucky jumped on Florida here early Saturday with a 22-3 run and never really let the Gators back in the game while winning 80-61.
Jamal Murray and Tyler Ulis nearly outscored the Gators. Murray had a career-high 35 points on 13 of 21 shooting, including 8 of 10 from 3-point range, and six rebounds. Ulis tied Terrence Jones for the most points by a player in the John Calipari era and he’s the first player in the Calipari era to have two 30-point games in his career.
Ulis hit his first seven shots and finished with 18 points despite missing his last five shots and also had 11 assists. It was his 16th straight game with at least four assists.
“They were incredible. I thought Ulis really controlled the entire first half offensively and defensively. I thought defensively he put on a clinic. Offensively he runs the show,” Florida coach Mike White said.
“But Jamal Murray stole the show overall with his ability to make shots. I think he is still open right now. I am very discouraged. Like we didn’t know he was a good shooter. He was unbelievable. He can really shoot it and they did a good job getting him open.”
Derek Willis had 12 points and six rebounds.
The Wildcats had to play without senior forward Alex Poythress, who was out with a knee injury. It was not the same knee he injured early last season and missed the rest of the year after undergoing surgery.
“I thought Jamal, other than two or three plays he can’t help making, he was really good,” Calipari said.
Caipari said he found out five minutes before the game started that Poythress could not play when the trainer told him his knee was bothering him and he will have X-rays Sunday. T
Calipari told Isaac Humphries to be ready for his opportunity and Humphries responded four points, six rebounds and two blocks.
“He earned his space. I am so happy for him. He has worked so hard and has not had that opportunity. We all looked at each other and said he needs to play. He deserves it,” Calipari said.