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No. 24 Florida makes a statement in 22-point win over No. 8 Kentucky

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Kasey Hill played the best game of his collegiate career, finishing with a career-high 21 points to go along with five boards, five assists and some stellar defense on Malik Monk as No. 24 Florida landed their first marquee win of the season over No. 8 Kentucky, 88-66.

Devin Robinson added 16 points and nine boards for the Gators while Kevaughn Allen chipped in with 12 points.

De’Aaron Fox led the Wildcats with 19. Malik Monk had 11 points, but he went scoreless in the first half and finished the night 4-for-14 from the floor.

Here are three things to take away from that game:

1. It’s time to start taking Florida seriously: We’ve known that this Florida team is good. They entered Saturday sitting at 17-5 on the season and a game out of first place in the SEC. They were ranked seventh in KenPom’s ranking prior to the start of their game and slotted in with one of the nation’s top ten defenses. None of that happens by accident. But before Saturday, the Gators hadn’t actually done anything of note this season. Their best wins were Seton Hall, Miami, Arkansas and Tennessee, and there’s a distinct possibility that all four of those teams will miss the NCAA tournament.

Hell, it’s not even surprising that Florida won. They were favored. KenPom projected them to win by two.

But this wasn’t just a win for Florida. This was a statement, one that happened on national television in primetime on a Saturday night. It happened on college gameday against Kentucky. That’s not something that is easily forgotten, and it’s something that justifies their ranking and the numbers that the computers spit out.

It’s an outcome that supports what our eyes tell us: This Florida team is damn good, and, with SEC leader South Carolina coming to the O-Dome later on this season, may be good enough to win an SEC title.

It starts with their defense, where the Gators have big, tough and strong athletes at every spot on the floor. The difference in the body composition of Florida players and Kentucky players was striking. Everyone on that Florida team looks like they haven’t missed a day in the weight room since they first stepped foot on that campus, which is perfect for the way that Mike White wants to play. They pressure, they take you out of your sets, they try to force turnovers and they basically just make running an offense a living hell.

Their offense comes from that. They aren’t great, but their ability to turn turnovers into points and the fact that they play two points guards – Hill and Chris Chiozza – together makes up for the fact that they aren’t a great shooting team and that they don’t have a ton of offensive talent.

In other words, the reason Florida won this game was because they were a far better team. That said …

2. … Kentucky looked soft: That was the biggest difference in this game.

Malik Monk didn’t shoot it well, and Bam Adebayo struggled against John Egbunu, and Kentucky’s half-court offense didn’t stand a chance against Florida’s defense. All of that is true. But the reason that Florida went into halftime with a lead, the reason they were able to get so many easy baskets on runouts, was that they just played harder than Kentucky did.

That sounds like an oversimplification, but trust me, if you watched the game you know it’s true. The Gators got seemingly every loose ball. They obliterated Kentucky on the glass. They turned Kentucky’s offense into Fox driving left into traffic or Adebayo forcing a move in the post.

Florida looked like they were ready for the fight, and Kentucky didn’t have an answer.

3. Kentucky goes as Malik Monk goes: Monk played his worst game as a Wildcat on Saturday. He finished with 11 points, his lowest total since the season opener, and was just 4-for-14 from the floor, which is the worst he’s shot in a game this season. He’s averaging 18.0 points while shooting 37 percent from the floor and 30.7 percent from three in the three games Kentucky has lost in the last two weeks. He was 6-for-17 from the floor and 1-for-9 from three in the loss at Louisville, and he struggled in close road wins at Vanderbilt and Mississippi State as well.

Perhaps the best example of this came on Tuesday night, not Saturday. Monk had six points in the first half of a game against Georgia, then went for 31 in the second half an overtime to lead Kentucky back from a big deficit.

Cal promotes assistant Wyking Jones to head coach

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Cal will promote interim head coach and former assistant coach Wyking Jones to head coach, a source confirmed to NBCSports.com. The story was first reported by Jon Rothstein of FanRagSports.com

A native of Inglewood, California, Jones has been an assistant coach for the Golden Bears for the past two seasons as he replaces former head coach Cuonzo Martin, who departed to take the Missouri job. This promotion comes as a bit of a surprise for some since Jones has never been a head coach at the Division I level.

Jones has spent 15 years as an assistant coach at the Division I level at places like Cal, Louisville, New Mexico, Pepperdine and Loyola Marymount — where Jones spent his playing career.

Helping Louisville to the Final Four in 2013, Jones is a respected coach and recruiter who gets a great opportunity for his first head coaching job at the Division I level with Cal.

The Golden Bears made the NCAA tournament last year but finished 21-13 this season as they missed making the field of 68. Sophomore big man Ivan Rabb has already declared for the NBA Draft and it will be interesting to see what kind of roster Jones gets to work with right away.

One of the reasons Jones might have been retained is to help Cal keep its solid five-man recruiting class from bolting. While the Golden Bears don’t have any five-star talents coming in, it is a solid foundation for the program’s future led by a four-star guard in Jemarl Baker.

Florida State freshman forward Jonathan Isaac declares for 2017 NBA Draft

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Florida State freshman forward Jonathan Isaac has declared for the 2017 NBA Draft.

The 6-foot-10 Isaac was a five-star prospect out of high school as he averaged 12.0 points and 7.8 rebounds per game. One of the most versatile defenders in the country, Isaac could protect the rim (1.5 blocks per game) and also switch out to the perimeter and cover smaller wings as well (1.2 steals per game). Also showing a solid skill level, Isaac shot 50 percent from the field, 34 percent from three-point range and 78 percent from the free-throw line.

That kind of versatility is what Isaac is banking on in the NBA Draft as he’s expected to be a top-15 pick. If Isaac can prove that he’s a reliable perimeter shooter then teams could be intrigued by him as a matchup nightmare in the front court.

Alabama loses Nick King, Brandon Austin to transfer

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Alabama is losing a pair to transfer as junior Nick King and sophomore Brandon Austin are planning to transfer, according to a release.

The 6-foot-7 King is expected to graduate and be eligible to play anywhere right away as a graduate transfer while the 6-foot-5 Austin will likely have to sit out a season before playing.

King started his career at Memphis but transferred to Alabama. A former starter at small forward, King played the first seven games of the season until a lung infection shut down his season. He averaged 3.3 points and 2.9 rebounds per game before shutting it down.

A former top-50 recruit from the Class of 2013, King will look to jumpstart his career elsewhere during his final season of college basketball.

Austin only appeared in six games and played a total of 44 minutes this season as he also dealt with injuries like an early bone bruise.

The Crimson Tide are bringing in one of the best recruiting classes in the country next season as their freshmen could see a lot of playing time. So it comes as no surprise that players like King and Austin would transfer to assure more playing time.

Candidates Georgetown could target for head coach

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Georgetown moved on from head coach John Thompson III after 13 years at the helm on Thursday as the move sent shockwaves throughout college basketball.

The Thompson family has been a major institution for Georgetown basketball, dating back to the ’70s when John Thompson Jr. was head coach. So this new hire for the Hoyas will be a fascinating process.

Here’s a list of some early names that could be involved with Georgetown.

Tommy Amaker, Harvard — With a successful tenure at Harvard that at one point included four NCAA tournament bids in a row, Amaker has won at his latest job while coaching at an elite academic institution.

Put together with previous stops at Seton Hall and Michigan and Amaker has run a big-time program while also winning at an Ivy League school. Leaving Harvard might be tough though when Amaker is beginning to recruit at a national level at the program.

Jamion Christian, Mount St. Mary’s — Five years at Mount St. Mary’s has produced two NCAA tournament appearances for Christian as the 34-year-old would represent a bold, young hire for Georgetown.

Also an assistant coach for a season at VCU under Shaka Smart, Christian has recruited in that area before and he’s regarded by many as one of the bright, young head coaches in a low-major league. Coming from Smart at VCU, it should come as no surprise that Christian plays an uptempo system and presses on defense.

It would be a bit risky for Georgetown to hire someone as young as Christian but he also has the kind of enthusiasm to lead the tough rebuild that the Hoyas potentially face.

Nathan Davis, Bucknell — After leading Bucknell to the NCAA tournament in only his second season as a Division I head coach, Davis is someone to keep an eye on for the future.

The Washington D.C. native has quickly established himself as a potential young star in the coaching ranks but he also might be too inexperienced to take one of the Big East’s prestige positions. As a Division I head coach for only two seasons, Davis hasn’t faced the pressure of the high-major level at any of his previous coaching stops. Davis certainly deserves credit for his Division III coaching success and Final Four appearance with Randolph-Macon (Bo Ryan was pretty good in DIII before moving to Division I) but that’s a long way from the Big East.

Davis would have to prove that he’s capable as a coach and recruiter at the Big East level and he would be a risk if hired by the Hoyas.

Patrick Ewing Sr., Charlotte Hornets assistant  — The Hall of Fame center and Georgetown alum would be an intriguing name. Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports reported that the Hoyas are considering Ewing as a potential head coach.

This wouldn’t just be a Chris Mullin at St. John’s type of scenario where Mullin had no coaching experience before taking the job. Ewing has been grinding as an NBA assistant coach for the past 15 years in the hopes of getting an NBA head coaching job. Georgetown represents an unique opportunity for Ewing to rebuild his former program and his son, Patrick Ewing Jr., would potentially work for him.

Recruiting would obviously be a major question mark but Ewing has the playing and coaching pedigree to be a wild card in this.

Dan Hurley, Rhode Island — The Rams finally broke through and made the NCAA Tournament in Hurley’s fifth year as head coach this season as Rhode Island made the second round before falling to Oregon in a close game.

Of the coaches on this list, the Rams have recruited a lot of top-100 prospects and futures pros like E.C. Matthews and Hassan Martin, so we know that Hurley knows how to navigate elite recruiting.

As the son of legendary high school coach Bob Hurley and younger brother of Arizona State head coach Bobby Hurley, Dan Hurley comes from a long line of basketball coaches. He’s made Rhode Island one of the premier programs in the Atlantic 10. Although he’s only made one NCAA Tournament appearance in seven seasons as a head coach, Hurley has things trending in the right direction.

Shaka Smart, Texas — This isn’t likely going to happen but Georgetown is at least going to call. Since Smart was so successful at nearby VCU before taking the Texas job, the Hoyas are going to see if he’d be interested in returning to the area after this season’s disappointing last-place Big 12 finish.

If this Georgetown coaching position had been made available two years ago, before Smart had taken the Texas job, then it would have been intriguing to see where things might stand between the two. But now that Smart has at least four, four-star prospects entering Texas next season, while returning most of the current roster, he has a chance to build from this season’s last-place finish.

VIDEO: Why did the NCAA ban dunking in 1967?

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With UCLA playing in the Sweet 16 tonight, it’s a fitting time to bring up the story of the time that the association banned dunking.

It was in 1967, and it was because there was a kid named Lew Alcindor (who would change his name to Kareem Abdul Jabbar) at UCLA who led the Bruins to a 30-0 record and a national title.

And just think, that rule change, which lasted until 1976, kept some of the game’s greatest dunkers from showing what they could really do in college. Imagine David Thompson rattling rims, rather than his assortment of finger-rolls and layups. Dr. J soared at UMass, but never like Dr. J really could. And so on.

So as you’re watching the rest of the NCAA tournament, thank the rule-makers who brought the dunk back. We’re better for it.