Lexington, KY (SportsNetwork.com) - Casey Prather scored a game-high 24 points to lead third-ranked Florida to a 69-59 win over No. 14 Kentucky at Rupp Arena.
Scottie Wilbekin added 23 points on 11-of-12 shooting from the free throw line and Patric Young gave 10 points for the Gators (23-2, 12-0 SEC), who tied a school record with their 17th consecutive win.
With the victory, Florida opened a three-game lead atop the SEC standings.
Andrew Harrison scored 20 points, James Young added 19 and Julius Randle finished with 13 points and 13 rebounds for the Wildcats (19-6, 9-3), who had a four-game winning streak snapped.
"What they did, they've done, I'm guessing, ten games this year, where, with five minutes to go, four minutes to go, three minutes to go, it's anybody's ballgame. Then they just grinded better than the other team grinds it, like they did us. They were just a little too experienced for us down the stretch," said Kentucky coach John Calipari.
Kentucky led 45-38 after Harrison tipped in a Randle miss with 11:13 left. Young's 3-point play moments later sparked a 9-1 run that put the Gators in front 47-46. Young also closed the flurry with a three-point play and Wilbekin nailed a 3-pointer with the shot clock winding down earlier in the run.
The Wildcats regained the lead when Randle knocked down a pair of free throws, but Calipari was whistled for a technical foul and Wilbekin made the subsequent free throws and Prather added a layup with just under eight minutes to go to make it 51-48.
"You have to ask him. I just told the guy -- I was speaking softly. I don't know what he heard me say with my back to him, so you have to ask him," said Calipari on why he was issued an technical foul.
Aaron Harrison knocked down a 3-pointer from the corner at the 6:04 mark to tie the game at 53, but Florida ran away with it from there.
Prather and Wilbekin each knocked down a pair of free throws and Michael Frazier II delivered the dagger with his 3-pointer with 4:14 remaining for a five-point lead. Wilbekin was blocked by Willie Cauley-Stein, but Dorian Finney-Smith grabbed the rebound and kicked it out of Frazier, who buried the trey.
Andrew Harrison pulled Kentucky within five points with just under two minutes to go, but Prather skied over four Wildcats for an offensive rebound with 55 seconds left and split a pair of free throws to all but seal the win.
"I think down the stretch we knew what we had to do to be able to get the win. I think we did a really good job guarding them down the stretch, getting stops and rebounds. Casey (Prather) had a huge rebound, Dorian (Finney-Smith) did a good job as well. We just made plays and I think that helped us." said Wilbekin.
A Randle dunk with two minutes left in the first half gave Kentucky a 31-24 lead, but Finney-Smith's layup, followed by a pair of Wilbekin free throws with nine seconds left, made it 31-28 at the break.
Florida won at Rupp Arena for the first time since Feb. 10, 2007 ... The Gators outscored Kentucky 34-22 in the paint ... Florida committed just five turnovers ... The Gators were 22-for-28 from the free throw line, including 15-for-17 from the charity stripe in the second half ... Florida hosts Auburn on Wednesday ... Kentucky was 14-for-23 from the free throw line ... The Wildcats got just two points from their reserves ... Kentucky visits Ole Miss on Tuesday.