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February 3, 2006

Injury-depleted Gators ready for UK

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. - Florida has one three-game winning streak against Kentucky, and it happened nearly two decades ago.

Since then, the Gators are 9-30 against the Southeastern Conference's most storied program, with losing skids of five, eight and 10 games.

Needless to say, No. 8 Florida would relish a third straight victory against the Wildcats on Saturday night.

"I don't think anyone's intimidated by them," Florida forward Adrian Moss said. "They've just kind of had our number there for a while, but we got two in a row against them. It's a good rivalry."

Really? Even when Moss endured eight consecutive losses against Kentucky between 2002 and 2005?

"Let me take that back. It wasn't a rivalry. Now it's starting to become a rivalry. At times, it's been a one-sided pummeling on us."


But now the Gators (19-2, 5-2 SEC) have a chance to put together their longest winning streak against Kentucky (15-6, 5-2) since 1988.

"It's kind of like when you're playing against a guy in your neighborhood that you never beat and you finally beat him," Moss said. "Your confidence gets sky high. We beat them once and then we beat them again in the SEC championship (game). We just like getting wins against those guys."

It might not be easy Saturday.

Florida likely will be without shooting guard Lee Humphrey for a second consecutive game, and forward Corey Brewer has been hobbled by tendinitis in his right ankle.

Humphrey separated his left shoulder and tore a ligament when he flipped off his bicycle last week. Even though Humphrey had an injection to reduce swelling and relieve pain, his mobility has been limited and he has not practiced since.

Coach Billy Donovan said it was unlikely Humphrey would play against the Wildcats, but he also didn't rule him out.

"The biggest thing with Lee is going to be his range of motion," Donovan said. "When it happened, he could only get his arm up halfway. It's getting better. Then you have to go through the confidence issue of does he feel comfortable going out there and playing and being productive."

Brewer's productivity has dipped significantly since he sprained his ankle Jan. 21 at Tennessee. He has a combined 10 points on 3-of-11 shooting the last three games and has three rebounds and eight turnovers.

"It's very obvious watching him play that he's not reckless and daring and playing like he's capable of," Donovan said. "I don't know if there's a level of uncertainty if he plants or runs or jumps or if the pain is so severe he just can't do what he's supposed to do."

Donovan said he considered sitting Brewer out and allowing him to rest for a week or two, but team doctors told him Brewer would need a lot more time off to fully recover, which the Gators can't afford to do with Humphrey sidelined. Donovan also said Brewer might have to deal with chronic tendinitis the rest of the season.

"That's the big question right now: Is this something that gets prolonged into the end of February, the beginning of March?" he said. "Right now, we're hopeful that it's not going to be that situation."

Although the Gators are undermanned, Kentucky is playing at full strength and riding a five-game winning streak after losing its first two conference games.

"You never can count Kentucky out for dead," Moss said. "I don't care if they go 0-10 in the SEC, they're still going to make the tournament and they're still going to do well in the tournament because that's Kentucky. They're fighters and scrappers with a lot of heart."

For more coverage of the Florida Gators, check out GatorBait.net, and for the Kentucky Wildcats, check out CatsPause.com.

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