LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) -- A basketball video game commercial depicts a Florida player resembling Joakim Noah dunking on a Kentucky player resembling Randolph Morris. Then, the footage rewinds, and he does it again and again and again.
The real-life Morris knows the feeling. He's now a junior at the winningest college basketball program in history, but it's been more than two years since he experienced for the first and only time what it's like to beat the Gators.Even though Kentucky has dominated the Southeastern Conference and won the East 11 of the 15 years since the league split into divisions, the top-ranked and defending national champion Gators have taken four straight against the Wildcats.Another win Saturday night at Rupp Arena would stretch it to five.Morris acknowledged that during his collegiate career, Florida has surpassed Kentucky for SEC supremacy. "If they dominate the league for that long, they do have the dominance."But Florida coach Billy Donovan says it'll take far more than one national championship to supplant the Wildcats as the beasts of the East."I just don't think that our tradition right now here at Florida can compare to the North Carolinas or the Kentuckys or the UCLAs," Donovan said. "Maybe 15, 20, 25 years from now, maybe people will look back on a place like Florida and talk about, 'Wow, they've had tradition for 15, 20, 25 years.' But we don't have the same type of tradition that they have."After a shaky 2005-06 season that saw Kentucky lose 13 games and get ousted by Connecticut from the second round of the NCAA tournament, these Wildcats are showing a bit of their old life. Their 7-2 record is second only to Florida's 9-0 in the SEC, and they're now ranked 20th nationally -- their highest spot of the year.But even this year, when Kentucky has actually exceeded many of its preseason expectations, there have been rough patches. In their last game against SEC cellar dweller South Carolina, the Wildcats scored 50 points in the first half but gave up 61 in the second. What could have been a blowout turned into a nail biter against a team it previously beat by 38 points.Although Kentucky coach Tubby Smith has joked about his team's lack of focus finishing out games, he isn't concerned his players will lack motivation against the Gators."Whether a team beats you, no matter one, two or five times in a row, it should give you inspiration to reach down and play harder and practice harder," Smith said.All five of Florida's starters are averaging more than 10 points a game, and they all can handle the ball, pass and shoot. Morris says he hopes to "cancel out" Noah, but even if he does, the Wildcats may struggle to answer the combination of size and quickness forward Corey Brewer features."Florida is a very talented team, so it's going to come down to the little things," said Kentucky guard Joe Crawford, who may draw the task of defending Brewer. "We have to box out more, rebound more, grab the loose balls and do everything to pull this game out."Florida is sporting a 15-game winning streak, but three of its conference wins were close against teams Kentucky also defeated -- Mississippi, Mississippi State and Arkansas.Although the Kentucky players are playing respectable basketball right now, they know they could skyrocket up the national rankings with just one signature win. They came up short earlier this season against UCLA and North Carolina, and this is yet another chance."This is an opportunity to get a great game under our belts," Kentucky forward Bobby Perry said. "Right now we're playing well and have improved a lot since the beginning of the season."A win for Kentucky Saturday figures to give the Wildcats' postseason seeding a huge boost. But a win for Florida, which appears a shoo-in for a top seed in the NCAA tournament, could have even longer effects."Kentucky has so much tradition that goes way back," Florida guard Taurean Green said. "We're trying to build that tradition here. We're trying to get to that level."Teammate Chris Richard put the goal even more succinctly."I think we want to go out and try to get the legacy they have," he said.