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Kentucky surges past No. 13 UF

The Associated Press
Published:   |   Updated: March 19, 2013 at 06:18 PM
LEXINGTON, Ky. -

Darius Miller let the 3-pointer fly from the top of the key. When it splashed through the net to clinch Kentucky's biggest victory of the season, the normally reserved forward turned and briefly stuck his tongue out in celebration.

Saving a season sure tasted sweet.

Miller scored a career-high 24 points and the 22nd-ranked Wildcats surged past No. 13 Florida 76-68 on Saturday, the kind of confidence-boosting victory Kentucky desperately needed following another late-game road meltdown against Arkansas on Wednesday that left Coach John Calipari questioning his team's toughness.

Against the Gators, he got some answers, particularly from Miller. Calipari openly challenged Miller after a loss at Florida three weeks ago, pointing out his mistakes in a tough 70-68 defeat.

Miller atoned with the best game of his career, adding five rebounds, three assists and three steals in 35 energetic minutes.

"He told me I was going to have to step up for us to win, for us to be a good team," Miller said. "I just tried to come out and play aggressive."

Brandon Knight added 16 points and six assists without turning it over as the Wildcats (20-8, 8-6 SEC) won their 33rd straight home game and gave Calipari his 500th career victory.

That number includes 42 wins Calipari-coached teams at Memphis and Massachusetts were required to forfeit by the NCAA for violations during his tenure, though he has never been found at fault for the infractions.

Calipari posed briefly at midcourt with the game ball after the game, but wasn't in the mood to talk about his milestone.

"All I was worried about was (win) No. 20," he said. "That stuff is, you coach long enough and you survive. I've been fired once. But you survive. You win some ballgames."

Kenny Boynton led Florida (22-6, 11-3) with 21 points and Chandler Parsons added 15 points and eight rebounds. But the Gators, who clinched a share of the SEC East title with a win over Georgia on Thursday night, couldn't keep up with the Wildcats in the second half.

"About 10-12 minutes to go in the game our frontcourt just couldn't quite finish around the basket that I thought were some opportunities to really stay within striking range," Florida coach Billy Donovan said. "And then once (the deficit) got to eight or 10 we were constantly playing from behind."

Fighting for loose balls, crashing the offensive boards and trying to keep Parsons in check, Miller kept Kentucky perfect at home under Calipari and gave the Wildcats a much-needed morale boost.

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