Shades of Tayshaun from Quickley as Cats beat Gators, 65-59

Immanuel Quickley scored a career-high 26 points, including 15 of Kentucky's 17 during a decisive second-half stretch as the 10th-ranked Wildcats pushed past Florida 65-59 on Saturday night for their sixth consecutive victory.

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (UK Athletics) – Immanuel Quickley scored a career-high 26 points, including 15 of Kentucky’s 17 during a decisive second-half stretch as the 10th-ranked Wildcats pushed past Florida 65-59 on Saturday night for their sixth consecutive victory.

Quickley made 4 of 6 from 3-point range and 8 of 17 shots overall to surpass his previous high of 23 points at Auburn on Feb. 1. He scored all but four of his points in the second half. Tyrese Maxey had 13 points for first-place Kentucky (22-5, 12-2 Southeastern Conference), which took a three-game lead over Florida (17-10, 9-5).

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Keyontae Johnson had 19 points and Kerry Blackshear Jr. scored 18 for the Gators, who had won their previous three games and five of six.

A back-and-forth game featuring 11 lead changes and 10 ties swung Kentucky’s way midway through the second half thanks to Quickley, who knocked down three consecutive 3-pointers for a 50-44 lead with 11:20 remaining. The sophomore guard’s 3 with 1:34 left provided an eight-point cushion.

But Florida rallied within 61-59 on Scottie Lewis’ tip of his missed free throw with 19 seconds left.

Maxey converted a 1-and-1, and Ashton Hagans made a steal that led to Quickley adding two free thows with 1.9 seconds left.

Florida outrebounded Kentucky 30-27 but committed 16 turnovers, leading to 20 points.

BIG PICTURE

Florida: Blackshear’s perimeter shooting and Johnson’s work inside initially kept the Gators in the game, with help from Tre Mann. After taking their last lead at 44-41, they made one of their next 11 from the field and struggled to stop Quickley.

Kentucky: A strong inside presence helped keep the Wildcats within range until Quickley caught fire. Two three-point plays got him started before his string of 3s made the difference in a game where every possession mattered.

UP NEXT

Florida hosts LSU on Wednesday night, aiming to avenge an 84-82 loss to the Tigers on Jan. 21.

Kentucky visits Texas A&M on Tuesday night in the lone regular season matchup with the Aggies.

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Austin Miller joins ABC 36 Sports Team as a Sports Reporter and Weekend Anchor. Austin is from the Louisville area and graduated from St. Xavier High School in 2008. Austin graduated from Indiana University with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism and a second concentration in German. While at IU, Austin was a blogger at Kentsterling.com and co-host, producer and engineer for WIUX, the school’s student radio station. Before coming to ABC 36, Austin was a news videographer at WLFI in West Lafayette from 2012-2015. While working with WLFI, Austin had the chance to cover the Purdue Boilermakers. He then accepted a Sports/New Reporter position at Local 4 KSNB-TV in Hastings Nebraska and was eventually promoted to sports full-time as the Weekend Sports Anchor/Reporter. While at KSNB-TV, Austin covered the University of Nebraska, the University of Nebraska-Kearney and Hastings College. After spending nearly six years away from home, Austin is excited to return to the Bluegrass State to cover the teams he grew up watching. In his spare time, Austin enjoys playing basketball, working out and cooking. If you have any story ideas or would like to say “Hello,” you can reach Austin by email at amiller@wtvq.com or direct message him on Twitter @AustinMillerTV.