GAINESVILLE, Florida (Ticker) -- Anthony Roberson's heady play on both ends of the court snapped Florida's nightmarish streak against Kentucky.
Roberson made two free throws with 15 seconds remaining and finished with 21 points as the Gators snapped a nine-game losing streak against the third-ranked Wildcats with a 53-52 Southeastern Conference victory.
Dropping a hard-fought 69-66 loss at Kentucky on February 8, Florida (20-7, 12-4 SEC East) captured its first win against its conference rival in four years. The win also recorded the Gators' seventh straight 20-win campaign.
With Kentucky (23-4, 14-2 East) clinging to a 52-51 lead with 44 seconds remaining, Patrick Sparks dribbled the ball upcourt and drove to the basket for a pullup jumper, but Roberson stripped the ball and was fouled by Sparks with 15 seconds to play.
An 88 percent shooter at line, Roberson buried both attempts to give Florida its first lead in nearly four minutes at 53-52. After Kentucky brought the ball up to halfcourt and called a timeout with 11 seconds left, Kelenna Azubuike's attempt from 3-point range with the clock winding down fell off the mark.
Roberson, who scored 23 points in the previous game against the Wildcats, had 21 points with three 3-pointers. Matt Walsh scored 11 points and David Lee chipped in 11 and 10 rebounds for the Gators, who ended the regular season with six wins in their last seven games.
After leading, 26-25, at the half, Florida extended it to 39-34 with 10:39 remaining when Lee completed an emphatic dunk off a miss by Al Horford. The Gators maintained their lead until Azubuike hit a jumper and a 3-pointer on consecutive possessions to give the Wildcats a 44-43 with 4:32 to play, their first since late in the opening half.
Randolph Morris added a three-point play and Chuck Hayes hit a jumper to push Kentucky's advantage to 49-45 with 2:05 remaining. After Sparks missed a long jumper, Walsh was fouled on a breakaway layup and made the ensuing free throw to close within 49-48 with 90 seconds left.
Sparks, Kentucky's top long distance threat, then connected on his first basket from the arc, but Walsh answered back with a long 3-pointer to make it 52-51 with 48 seconds to play. Walsh finished 2-of-6 from the arc.
Hayes scored 11 points and Azubuike and Morris both had nine for Kentucky, which shot 42 percent (22-of-52) and attempted just five free throws - a season low.
The Wildcats, who held a 32-31 edge to mark the first time in seven games that they had won the rebounding battle, fell to 14-2 when outrebounding their opponent.