GAINESVILLE, Fla. - Florida scored when it needed to, locked down defensively for most of the game and generally controlled Kentucky Tuesday night at the Stephen C. O'Connell Center.
But Julius Mays was reluctant to give the No. 7 Gators too much credit for their 69-52 win against No. 25 UK, a game largely overshadowed by Nerlens Noel's second-half knee injury.
"I don't think it was anything they were doing," said Mays, who tied for a team high with 10 points. "I think it was all on us. We weren't talking like we were (in a win) at Ole Miss. Really just communication. We didn't have that togetherness out there tonight like we did at Ole Miss and the focus that we had."
Mays did his part, making 4-of-7 shots and tying for a team high with three assists, but no Wildcat was a standout. And though Mays conceded that Florida "outworked us," he saw most of the Cats' issues as self-inflicted.
"We just played soft, scared," Mays said. "Guys were just uptight, let pressure get to us. We're usually really good with the press. I don't know what it was today. But like I said, they just outworked us. They played tougher than we did."
In what was billed as a game in which guard play would be key, Florida won the backcourt battle.
The starting Gator guards - Scottie Wilbekin, Mike Rosario and Kenny Boynton - combined for 35 points, 12 assists and six turnovers on 12-of-27 shooting.
Kentucky's starting guards - Mays, Ryan Harrow and Archie Goodwin - combined for 18 points, seven assists and seven turnovers on 8-of-19 shooting. Harrow failed to score in 19 minutes.
But Florida might have been better in the frontcourt, where it mostly neutralized UK.
"We couldn't get near the basket on Young," Calipari said. "He just physically took away the rim."
Calipari was more willing to praise the Gators than was Mays, calling them "an outstanding basketball team" and said Florida is "where we're trying to get this group" in terms of its ability to play physically.
Still, Calipari understood Mays' lack of willingness to heap praise on the Gators in the aftermath.
"He's disappointed in a couple of the guys' efforts I would imagine, the competitive spirit of a couple of guys," Calipari said. "But we knew how good their team was."
For the second time this season - and the first time since the season opener against Maryland - Harrow went without a point on Tuesday. It snapped a streak of two straight double-digit scoring games but was the third time in seven games Harrow has failed to score in double digits.
Harrow had one assist and two turnovers against the Gators. It was the fourth time in six games he's had at least as many turnovers as assists in a game.
It's a far cry from late December, when Harrow, for a string of games, looked like Kentucky's best player.
"I don't know," Calipari said when asked what's changed in Harrow over the last month. "We'll have to watch (the tape). I haven't looked at numbers but I can't imagine it was too good. He wasn't the only guy. We had a lot of guys not play well."
Back to the drawing board
Calipari lamented his team's lack of toughness and communication. As he often has this year, he expressed concern at his team's inability to "come together."
And he pointed to a key culprit.
"It's probably the coaching," Calipari said. "I'd put it on me more than anybody else."
But Calipari said "we're trying" to fix what has ailed the Cats.
"If the games are going to be played like this, we've got to be able to withstand it," Calipari said. "But we're a young team. Our young guys looked like deer in the headlights tonight, and so it's not what we wanted, but it's a lesson. We move on."
Asked if Florida's win Tuesday was simply a matter of juniors and seniors playing against freshmen, Calipari opted not to pin all the blame on youth.
"Yeah, that's some (of it), but I had freshmen last year and we did OK," Calipari said.