Julius Mays' two free throws with 9.4 seconds remaining capped Kentucky's comeback from a seven-point deficit for a 61-57 upset of No. 11 Florida on Saturday that revived its NCAA tournament prospects.
Archie Goodwin's 16 points led the way in a game that Wildcats coach John Calipari described Friday as "do or die" for his defending national champions. Kentucky needed a signature win to maintain its hopes for an NCAA tournament bid.
Kentucky (21-10, 12-6) still needs another win in next week's Southeastern Conference tournament to bolster its bid. The Wildcats outscored the Gators 11-0 over the final 7:28 for their second win over a Top 25 opponent.
Murphy's 17 points led Florida (24-6, 14-4), which missed its final 11 shots.
No. 8 Louisville Overpowers No. 24 Notre Dame, 73-57
Gorgui Dieng had 20 points, 11 rebounds and five blocks to help No. 8 Louisville earn a share of the Big East Conference title with a 73-57 victory over No. 24 Notre Dame on Saturday.
Peyton Siva added 13 points and five assists in his final home game for the Cardinals (26-5, 14-4 Big East), who finished tied for first place with Georgetown and Marquette. Louisville receives a bye into Thursday's quarterfinals at the Big East tournament, where coach Rick Pitino's team will defend its 2012 title.
Dieng and Siva were honored before the game as part of Louisville's senior day festivities. Dieng, a junior center from Senegal, is expected to enter the NBA draft after the season.
Garrick Sherman led Notre Dame (23-8, 11-7) with 14 points. The Fighting Irish will next play Wednesday in the conference tournament at Madison Square Garden.
Louisville shot 67 percent (16 of 24) for its best first half of the season. But Notre Dame held the Cardinals without a field goal for nearly six minutes early in the second half to cut the lead to 45-40 on Pat Connaughton's 3-pointer with 12:56 left.
That was as close as the Irish came. Dieng's turnaround jumper on the baseline with 10:33 left gave Louisville a 49-41 lead and started a 10-2 run.
Siva's third 3 of the game with 2:26 left and alley-oop layup on the next possession sealed the win.
UK Players Comments After Beating Florida
#34, Julius Mays, G
On how it felt to get the win...
"It felt good. Like I said earlier in the week, it was do-or-die. We needed this win more than anything to keep our season alive and it gives us a good feeling going into the SEC Tournament."
On where the free throws he hit in the closing seconds ranks in his college career...
"It's up there. I have had a lot of big moments in my college career, but that one was probably my biggest one because we needed that win more than anything to keep our hopes alive. I told Coach (Calipari) when we went into that timeout that I wanted the ball. He actually didn't draw the play the way I ran it, but I wanted that ball and I wanted to shoot those free throws."
On if the team "grew up" during today's game...
"I think they grew up. They didn't have any choice. They knew, like I said, it was do-or-die and that we needed this win more than anything. They stepped up big and we came out with the win."
#22, Alex Poythress, G
On focusing on the NCAA Tournament...
"We're not worried about the NCAA Tournament right now. Right now, we're just focused on the SEC Tournament. We have to take it one game at a time and try to get an SEC championship."
On wanting to change...
"It's never too late. There's always time to change. Our season's not over yet, so you just keep on going. There's always time to change."
On admitting he wanted to change...
"I just looked myself in the mirror and realized I could've been better this whole year, could've been better in some areas. It's time to grow up. "
#10, Archie Goodwin, G
On if he felt a comeback coming after his second steal...
"I knew from the get-go that we would be able to do that. When we were playing against Missouri we were down ten at one point and we came back and won the game. It was another one of those type of moments where we got down, but we just had to fight and withstand their run, and we did.
On how much getting into the NCAA tournament was a focus for the team...
"I would say that it had something to do with it because we know that. It wasn't even us thinking about the NCAA Tournament right now, it was really thinking about the SEC Tournament. We wanted to have a good seed going into there. Now we will probably play on Friday, which will give us a lot of rest in between and we can better focus on our game plan more. This was just a win to ensure our spot in the SEC tournament."
On the defensive effort at the end of the game...
"We just finally had everyone rotating well like we were supposed to. We had moments where we needed to scramble, and we did that well. We were able to make them take tough shots and when we weren't able to do that, they had a couple of freebies that they missed because they were riled up from those last seven minutes from us playing hard like we did. I think Patric (Young) missed a wide open lay up that he had. That just came from us working hard and them being exhausted after we withstood what they were doing."
On if the communication is better on the defensive end...
"Yes I do. We have been talking a lot more. In games like this we have to feed off of each other more and we know that now. When we figure that out, it helps us a lot. When we have to switch on screens, like we had to today, communication like that is key for us."
UK Vs UF Game Notes
FINAL SCORE: Kentucky 61, Florida 57
Team Records, Notes
Kentucky concludes the regular season 21-10 overall. The Wildcats are 12-6 in the Southeastern Conference and will finish second or tied for second after today's games are complete.
Florida is 24-6 overall, 14-4 in the SEC.
Kentucky leads the series 94-34, including 48-8 in games played in Lexington.
The SEC Tournament is March 13-17 in Nashville, Tenn. UK has earned a double bye, will be seeded second or third in the tourney and will play at 7:30 or 10 p.m. Eastern time on Friday.
Kentucky started with the lineup of Ryan Harrow, Julius Mays, Archie Goodwin, Alex Poythress and Willie Cauley-Stein for the sixth-straight game. UK is 4-2 with that lineup.
UK jumped out to an 11-2 lead in the first four minutes of the game.
Trailing 24-20, Florida took its first lead with a 9-0 run to go up 29-24.
The Wildcats scratched back and the game was tied at 31 at halftime.
Kentucky got the first five points of the second half and built eight-point leads at 42-34 and 44-36.
Trailing 45-38, Florida went on a 19-5 run to go up 57-50 with 7:36 remaining. However, the Gators did not score again.
The Wildcats scored the last 11 points of the game for the 61-57 win.
Archie Goodwin's dunk at 4:48 was the last basket of the game for either team.
Leading 59-57, it was a fitting Senior Day sendoff as Julius Mays hit two free throws with 9.4 seconds remaining to give the Wildcats a two-possession lead that was the final score.
Going up against one of the nation's best defensive teams, UK managed to win while shooting 39.3 percent from the field. It was the first time this season that the Wildcats won while making less than 40 percent of their field goal attempts.
Under Coach John Calipari, UK is 74-2 when limiting the opponent to 63 or fewer points.
Willie Cauley-Stein had six points, eight rebounds and blocked four shots.
Key element in the win today was that he re-entered the game with four fouls at the 11:15 mark in the second half and managed to play the remainder of the game without fouling out.
Has blocked at least two shots in seven-straight games.
Archie Goodwin led the Wildcats with 16 points, his 22nd double-figure scoring game of the season and sixth in a row.
Ryan Harrow had 13 points, four rebounds and two assists.
Averaging 13.5 points and 5.2 rebounds over the last six games.
Julius Mays had 13 points, two assists and two steals.
Made two clutch foul shots with 9.4 seconds remaining to clinch the win.
Has hit at least one 3-pointer in 19 of his last 20 games.
Jarrod Polson made both of his field goal attempts, totaling four points, two rebounds and two assists in 13 minutes of action.
Has become more of a scorer in recent games, averaging 4.6 points over the last nine games.
Alex Poythress had nine points and tied his career high with 12 rebounds.
His second double-figure rebounding game of the season.
UK is 5-0 this season when Poythress gets at least nine rebounds.