When UK meets Georgia today in Memorial Coliseum they are going to need to make a statement. The statement is this: We have to take care of business. We got bigger fish to fry. It sounds kinda arrogant, doesn't it? Well, if Kentucky wants to take the next step, they are going to have to be more arrogant.
The Wildcats also cannot afford to overlook anyone the next four weeks. No looking beyond lesser foes, no taking anyone for granted because they are, as in the case of Georgia, ranked lower than Kentucky. Admittedly, there is not a large difference in #7 and #13, but there is a difference. And Kentucky must show that difference today. They need to go in, take Georgia down early and get the job done.
The earlier loss this year at South Carolina derailed the train. That cannot happen again if UK is to have any chance of reaching that #1 seed in the NCAA Tourney. Losses to anyone in the SEC now do nothing but kill UK's ranking. Sounds like I am obsessing about it, does it not?
The truth is that UK sits atop a precarious position now. Without the South Carolina loss, UK would be sitting at #3-4 in both polls, and solidly in a #1 seed. Instead, they are now sitting on the bubble of that #2 seed, and another loss would pretty much destroy all hope for seed improvement no matter what they do the rest of the year.
For the next four weeks, UK will become road warriors. They play 5 of the next 7 away. The Hoop 'Cats would have had the luxury of losing one of those away games, had they taken care of South Carolina and their beating and banging ways. But as it is, short of getting Carolina in Memorial for revenge purposes, and finishing off the year in a battle royale with Tennessee at the comfortable confines of home, UK will be in unfriendly surroundings the rest of the season. So this, as much as I loathe to use the phrase, is a must-win.
How do we stack up? Pretty well. The problem is that Georgia doesn't care that UK must win this game. They need it themselves. Last year Georgia had UK down by 10 points before the Cats got serious and decided to get in the game. Georgia is a mix of old and young, but they are definitely a more youthful team, starting three freshmen.
Coach Andy Landers is not only the SEC's elder statesman of coaches, he is just 5 wins short of 900 and at this point, shows no signs of slowing down. Unless health derails him, he will most likely get within striking distance of Pat Summitt's sport leading wins total before he leaves the game he has coached all his life. Landers, like Summitt, was in the game during it's infancy, and has been at it's forefront ever since. While not garnering the accolades that Summit has, Landers is no less a brilliant coach, and he will exploit every weakness that UK has.
Look for the two Jasmine's, James and Hassell, to create problems for UK. Hassell is 6'2", and does not like being pushed around in the paint, and that is exactly what UK plans to do. Stallworth and Walker plan to corral Hassel and freshman Shacobia Barbee, Georgia's leading rebounder. A'Dia Mathies knows what she must do, and Jennifer O'Neill must protect the ball to prevent Georgia from taking advantage of turnovers, UK's Achilles' heel.
It is simple. Time to take care of business. No stumbling at home, We cannot afford it. UK 74- Georgia 62, and it could get ugly.
More details and stats at UKAthletics.com.