for this game

Snowden, Watkins lead No. 16 Kentucky past Florida

Feb 19, 2010 - 4:16 AM LEXINGTON, Ky.(AP) -- After giving up an eight point lead in the first half and allowing Florida to go up by four at the break, Kentucky coach Matthew Mitchell turned to two of his reserve players for some energy.

Keyla Snowden scored 21 points, Lydia Watkins had a career-high 19 and the 16th-ranked Wildcats to beat the Gators 77-51 on Thursday night.

"We needed something badly," Mitchell said. "We weren't prepared for Florida's intensity and were lucky to have been down by just four."

Snowden and Watkins - backups who had totaled 37 points in Kentucky's last six games - scored 40 of the Wildcats' 48 points in the second half. The two sparked a team that had been lackluster for most of the first half.

"The last 20 minutes were amazing," Mitchell said. "It just shows that we aren't a very good team if we aren't hustling."

Snowden shot 5 for 5 on 3-pointers and Watkins got all of her scoring in the second half to help the Wildcats (22-4, 10-3 Southeastern Conference) get their 17th straight home victory.

Snowden keyed the comeback, knocking in two straight 3s just after the break as the Wildcats went on a 29-4 run.

"We were just not aware (Snowden) was a shooter, which is astonishing" Florida coach Amanda Butler said. "(The back-to-back) 3-pointers were obviously a negative sign for us. It was a big turning point, no question."

Florida had taken the advantage late in the first half as the Wildcats saw an eight point lead evaporate with the Gators' 26-12 run.

"We had intensity in the first half," Butler said. "Then somehow in the second half we just checked out mentally. Obviously this was a tale of two halves."

Trumae Lucas scored 12 points, all in the first half, to lead the Gators (13-13, 6-7), who lost for the third time in four games.

At halftime, an irate Mitchell told his team that it was the worst performance he had seen from them all season and that in order to win they needed to boost their focus.

"He told us to go out and pick up the energy," Watkins said. "That was it, it was all about energy."

Watkins herself was critical in picking up the team's rhythm.

"I knew we weren't going to win the game if we didn't punch the ball inside," Mitchell said.

Watkins led the inside game, helping Kentucky score a third of their 34 points in the paint.

Still, she didn't get her first basket until 4 minutes into the second half.

"She was walking around in the first half in close to a zombie-like state," Mitchell said. "But she really came alive."

The Wildcats, donning pink jerseys to raise breast cancer awareness, also relied on their rugged defense. Kentucky had 32 points off 23 Florida turnovers.

"It's amazing how your hustle on defense creates opportunities on offense," Mitchell said.

More than half of the 6,638 in attendance were also clad in pink. Both the Wildcats' pink uniforms and the pink tie worn by Mitchell will be auctioned to raise money for the Kay Yow/WBCA Cancer Fund.