It was the most points that Sheppard has scored in an SEC game this season and the fourth time he has scored at least 20 points in a game.
Kentucky (15-5, 5-3 Southeastern Conference) got 19 points from Antonio Reeves. Sophomore Ugonna Onyenso had a big game in his first career start, notching career highs in points (13), rebounds (16) and blocked shots (eight).
Kentucky grabbed an 8-3 lead early in the game, boosted by threes from Adou Thiero and Reeves. Florida would climb its way back into the game, eventually tying it at 12-12 before taking a 14-12 lead on a Riley Kugel basket.
The Cats tied the game on a Sheppard bucket, then re-took the lead on a Zvonimir Ivisic free throw. From there, the lead would change hands 12 times before Kentucky got a three from Sheppard, an Onyenso putback and a Sheppard drive to the basket, to take a 34-28 lead. After a Florida free throw, the Cats got another Reeves three and an Aaron Bradshaw dunk to complete a 12-1 run and take a 39-29 lead with 2:16 to play in the half.
Florida would close the half on a 7-2 run, but the Cats took a 41-36 lead into the break. Sheppard led all scorers in the first half with 11 points.
The Gators scored the first six points of the second half to re-take the lead, 42-41. But the Cats got dunks from Onyenso and Reeves to grab a 45-42 advantage. UK would go ahead 47-44 but Florida tied the game on a Walter Clayton three.
From there, the lead would change hands 10 more times before the Cats stretched it to four, 70-66, on a Reeves three. However, Florida scored the next five to lead again, 71-70 with 7:17 to play. The lead would change hands three more times and the game would be tied at 73, 75 and 77.
Kentucky would get four straight points from Reeves to lead 81-77. Florida got a basket from Tyrese Samuel to get within two before Onyenso got an offensive rebound and stuck it back in to give the Cats an 83-79 advantage with 37 seconds to play.
Samuel scored again to get the Gators within two, 83-81. Dillingham was then fouled and hit the first free throw but missed the second. Florida then got a three from Clayton with five seconds left to tie the game and UK was unable to get a shot off, sending the game to overtime.
In overtime, Florida used an 8-0 run to take a 94-87 lead and the Gators held on for the victory.
Kentucky returns to action on Saturday, hosting No. 5 Tennessee at Rupp Arena. Tipoff is set for 8:30 p.m. ET and the game can be seen on ESPN.
Walter Cornett, of Glendale, Kentucky, is the owner and operator of Walter's Wildcat World. He founded WildcatWorld.com in 1998 making it one of the oldest Kentucky basketball fan sites in operation today.
On This Day In UK Basketball History
- On March 2, 1970, Dan Issel scored 42 points against Auburn.
- On March 2, 1991, before a crowd of 24,310, the then-largest crowd in Rupp arena history, the Wildcats closed out the 1990-91 season with a 22-6 overall record. Although UK was ineligible for the SEC title because of probation, the Wildcats secured the best record in the league (14-4) with a 114-93 win over Auburn to end its two-year probation. A ceremony and parade followed.
- On March 2, 1996, with a 101-63 victory over Vanderbilt in Rupp Arena on Senior Day, UK became the first team in 40 years to finish with a perfect record in the SEC, a 16-0 sweep. It was the Wildcats’ 25th win in a row, tying the school record for consecutive wins in a season. Two games later, they set the new record at 27 games.
- On March 2, 2012, Darius Miller, in his final performance at Rupp Arena, led Kentucky in scoring with 17 points on Senior Night in a 30-point win over Georgia.