Tweak works: Kentucky 88, Florida 79

By LARRY VAUGHT

Alex Poythress gave UK a needed lift Tuesday. (Vicky Graff Photo)

Alex Poythress gave UK a needed lift Tuesday. (Vicky Graff Photo)

Maybe it was the tweak. Maybe it wasn’t.

But whatever the reason, Kentucky played an inspired game at Florida Tuesday night to get a 88-79 road win that kept alive its chances of winning the Southeastern Conference championship and also helped protect it potential NCAA Tournament seeding.

The Wildcats (22-8, 12-5 SEC) got big performances from Jamal Murray and Tyler Ulis — nothing new. But they also got an unexpected boost from an unlikely source, freshman center Skal Labissiere.

Murray was just 1-for-6 from the field in the first half but heated up and finished with 21 points, eight rebounds and four assists. He went 4-for-6 from 3-point range and 7-for-10 at the foul line.

Kentucky got a huge boost from Labissiere, who got his first start since December. He had four points and three rebounds in the game’s first 3 1/2 minutes. He had six points and six rebounds in nine minutes before picking up his second foul. He was never quite the same the rest of the way but 11 points and eight rebounds were huge for UK.

Same for Alex Poythress, who did not score in Saturday’s loss at Vanderbilt. He had 12 points and 10 rebounds before fouling out late in the game.

Ulis ended his 0-for-10 shooting from 3-point range and finished with 19  points, 11 assists and four rebounds while again controlling the offense.

Isaiah Briscoe was also solid with 13 points, three rebounds and three assists before fouling out. He went 4-for-7 from the field and 5-for-6 at the foul line.

Kentucky was 7-for-10 from 3-point range and 19-for-26 at the foul line after not shooting a free throw in the first half.

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