Kentucky Basketball: Finishing Strong

Cal still believes UK can win 2 SEC Regular Season titles back to back. - Chuck Cook -US PRESSWIRE

The Cats need to finish the season much stronger than they have played the last three weeks. Can they do that?

Yes, I know what you are thinking. Most everyone has gone into the "numb zone". Not in shock, but awfully close to it. Last night's game really helped, but the haze is still there. 18-8 overall, 9-4 SEC is not where we were supposed to be right now. We were supposed to be sitting about 21-5, 12-1 and looking down at all the little SEC people. Well, that didn't happen. All is not lost, however. Kentucky is still sitting in a good place overall, and in SEC competition. Let me explain.

The schedule, believe it or not, favors Kentucky. We have the Missouri Tigers at home Saturday in what is sure to be an emotional and rowdy game. Is Mizzou better? On paper, maybe. Rupp Arena with 24K screaming people and the Cats coming off of their first post N2 win? I call it even odds. Give UK home court advantage. We can win that.

Mississippi State follows. That one is also at Rupp. Again, home cooking should favor the Cats. Mississippi State is dragging the bottom out of the basement. If any game all season should be a W, this one is it. Some will call this a trap game. I am calling it the Willie Cauley Stein Invitational. Make that 2 wins.

The game that follows MSU is the lynch pin to the rest of the season. A win at Arkansas would seal the deal. They do not lose at home. I think that Calipari can have these guards finally turning the corner by then. Last night showed that Archie is finally starting to get it. A couple of those circus shots of his start falling, and he becomes a very dangerous man who can draw the heat off a lot of people. Cats by 3 in a barnburner. This game should seal the deal on the NCAA Tourney. We are not yet done, however.

A trip to Catlanta could really make things interesting. Georgia is a middle of the road team at best. This game is the one I see as the trap. The Kittens may be feeling their oats after running off 4 straight wins. We need to avoid the letdown. I think they can, simply because they have to.

Now, all of a sudden, we are at 22-8, 13-4 and the future is not only looking a little brighter, it might actually get rosy. Here's why. Florida will have to face Alabama, Arkansas, and Tennessee before they see us again. 'Bama is going to be looking to make their NCAA case as well. Tennessee is playing like their shorts are on fire lately and feeling as if they have a shot too. Arkansas is truly dangerous on a given night. Florida could stub their toes at any one or a couple of these games. We are 2 games back of Florida at present, with Alabama in between. Kentucky could be facing Florida in Rupp Arena on the last game of the regular season with the SEC Regular Season title at stake. Or at least a piece of it.

It would take a huge game from Kentucky, an incredibly raucous crowd, and a lot of dominos to fall into place. Stranger things have happened, however. A win over Florida would avenge a loss, stick one in the NCAA selection committee's eye, and get this team primed for the SEC Tournament. It also would relieve a ton of pressure on a lot of people.

Kentucky at 24-8, 14-4, and ranked going into the post season. There she blows, folks.

And you all were worried.

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