SEC Championship Recap
by Ryan Glenn
No. 2E Florida 70, No. 1E Kentucky 53
ATLANTA – While Kentucky came into this game looking for their third straight championship game victory, Florida came in looking for their first ever championship win. The Gators finished the game on a 31-10 run to clinch their first SEC Tournament Championship with a 70-53 win over the Wildcats.
Florida came out with more intensity than the Wildcats did. Led by David Lee, the Gators quickly jumped out to an 18-6 lead. Kentucky tried to answer with a three from Bobby Perry, but the Wildcats still were not playing their normal intense defense. Following a three from Joe Crawford and a three-point play from Kelenna Azubuike, Kentucky had pulled within four points. Florida came firing back with five quick points from Matt Walsh and went into halftime with a 34-27 lead. The Gators dominated Kentucky on the boards in the first half, out-rebounding the Wildcats 26-14. Florida also had their scoring spread out in the half, which is a rare occurrence for them. The Gators had four players with five or more points and two with four points.
Kentucky came out of the locker room and started to play better defense and contest more shots. Azubuike came up big with two baskets, including one three-point play. That, combined with four other free-throws for the Wildcats, had them back within one. Walsh quickly became hot from behind the arc. Walsh hit three treys in four trips down the floor to put the Gators up seven, and they never looked back.
As Kentucky went cold, Florida was hitting virtually all of their shots and free-throws. Kentucky conceded with about two minutes to go in the game, as they sent in their bench so the Kentucky faithful could give one more round of applause to senior Chuck Hayes.
Walsh, the eventual tournament most valuable player, finished with a game-high 26 points. Walsh carried the Gators, as the next high-scorer on the list was Anthony Roberson with ten. Kentucky was led by Azubuike with 17 points, the only Wildcat to score in double figures.
2005 SEC All-Tournament Team
Matt Walsh, Florida – Most Valuable Player
Kelenna Azubuike, Kentucky
David Lee, Florida
Brandon Bass, LSU
Antonio Hudson, LSU