Florida romps Kentucky, becomes first 18-0 league team in SEC history

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For 24 years, from 1967 through 1991, the SEC played an 18-game conference schedule.

Nobody went undefeated in it.

Now, in the second season of a return to that 18-game slate (thanks to league expansion), Florida has. How great this season has become for the Gators. And it has a chance to be special, without question. These fellas are the frontrunners, the Vegas favorites, to win the national title this season. Their only two losses came on the road -- at Wisconsin, at UConn -- and in both games the team did not have its full roster available.

On Saturday Billy Donovan's team easily won 84-65 against Kentucky -- a team that's already clinched the No. 2 spot in the league tourney, yet didn't even appear to be in the same class as UF -- and put an indelible legacy on the seniors involved, no matter what happens from here on out.

Much like Wichita State's perfect regular season, this flawless Florida foray through the SEC will have a special place for that team and the fans. It's a group that's reached three straight Elite Eights and will definitely be taking on a lot of questions and pressures to break through that ceiling this season.

But to go 18-0 in league play, in a major conference, is an incredible achievement. That can stand on its own, and in Gainesville, it will always be remembered. Coaches dream of going undefeated in conference play. So, so few actually pull it off, no matter the level of the league.

From left, Gators seniors Patric Young, Will Yeguete, Scottie Wilbekin and Casey Prather. (USATSI)

And for as little as that 18-0 mark speaks to the Southeastern Conference's ability, it also shouts to Florida's stability. The Gators, led by four seniors, have a terrific chance to bring Billy Donovan a third national championship this season. The SEC recently saw this, as Kentucky went 16-0 in 2011-12, the year John Calipari's Cats won it all. Can Florida repeat the pattern? Sure.

The Gators have the No. 1 overall seed locked up, most likely. They've got seniors, size, speed, strength, swagger, shooting, experience and a streak with them. It's hard to not to love what Florida embodies.

A perfect team? No. No one is. Right now, Florida is as close to great as you can get before earning a Final Four trip to validate such a title. And speaking of titles, Donovans team has one of three. Next is the SEC tournament. Then you know what.

CBS Sports Writer

Matt Norlander is a national award-winning senior writer who has been with CBS Sports since 2010. He's in his eighth season covering college basketball for CBS, and also covers the NBA Draft, the Olympics,... Full Bio

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