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GAMETIME: #18 Kentucky at Tennessee

Enough. We ruminate, we pontificate, we split into factions and come back again. All over a game whose outcome we cannot change. So we move on.

Tonight, the Cats face a new, if familiar, test: a road game at Tennessee.

This is a big game -- aren't they all, come this time -- but made larger by the Wildcats' tenuous grip on second place in the SEC East. A loss to UT puts the Cats in a fight to the finish with the surging Vols and the waning 'Dores of Vandy. A win leaves the Cats in better shape, especially with road trips to Bama, Vandy and Florida remaining.

But while we fret, per usual, our compadres over at Rocky Top Talk take a completely different approach to tonight's game, though they aren't too orange to see how easily we UK fans are pigeonholed:

Whether the current state of the Kentucky basketball program is due to a pact with an underlord or a fondness for flesh, the result is the same: Kentucky has been wandering aimlessly for what seems like an eternity in search of either its former self or its next scapegoat-flavored meal.

Are we that easily pegged? Guess so.

Regardless, it's a game the UK program needs, if only to shrug off Saturday's close loss and realize that the season isn't over.

Something tells me the players have been told this, even if they may not believe it or act like it.

So what will occur: Cats prevail? Cats can't shake the snide? Tennesee is too jacked up? Things start getting ugly or back to normalcy and looking good?

My guess is that jumpshots will tell the tale. For both teams. I'll admit to being nerved out.

As always, our man Truz gives the details you need to know before the game starts.

What to look for:
* I want it all. While the rest of the SEC might have gloated a bit when Tennessee, and head annoyer Bruce Pearl, tailspun for a month, the freefall is most definitely over. The Vols flirted with bubble territory, and could still use a few wins to solidify their tourney seed. Is Kentucky happy to just have played Florida close or will they be out for a statement?

* Wonder Twins Power. Bobby Perry and Sheray Thomas combined for a 1-for-10 shooting day against Florida, and were generally unhelpful throughout. Perry's slump, with a few exceptions, is killing the club's early mo, if only because he won't stop shooting. How long before Tubby is forced to find other options -- either smaller or younger?

* Chris-mas?. You can all but throw out UK's near 20-point win at Rupp Arena now. Why? The Vols were without their leading scorer, heart and all-around dagger-producer, Chris Lofton. The Maysville native loves punking the Cats, so slowing him will be key for UK tonight.

Probable starting lineups

PG: Derrick Jasper (6'6"/213 Fr.) 4.8 ppg, 4.0 rpg
SG: Ramel Bradley (6'3"/175 Jr.) 14.2 ppg, *3.9 apg, 4.3 rpg
3G: Joe Crawford (6'5"/211 Jr.) 14.3 ppg, 4.2 rpg
C: Randolph Morris (6'11"/259 Jr.) 15.7 ppg, 7.4 rpg
SF: Bobby Perry (6'9"/215 Sr.) 7.0 ppg, 3.8 rpg

Bench rotation:
F Perry Stevenson, F Sheray Thomas, F Ramon Harris, C Lukasz Obrzut, G Jodie Meeks, G Michael Porter

PG: JaJuan Smith (6'2"/196 Jr.) 15.5 ppg, *4.4 apg
SG: Chris Lofton (6'2"/200 Jr.) 20.6 ppg, 3.0 rpg
G: Ramar Smith (6'2"/185 Fr.) 10.2 ppg, 3.1 rpg
F: Wayne Chism (6'9"/245 Fr.) 9.1 ppg, 5.6 rpg
C: Dane Bradshaw (6'4"/205 Sr.) 6.2 ppg, *4.8 apg

Bench rotation:
Duke Crews (F), Ryan Childress (F), Jordan Howell (G), Josh Tabb (G), Marques Johnson (G-F)

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