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Groundhog Day

It just never stops.  This has been a season of struggles to win against virtually every team Kentucky has played.  After a sharp start by Joe Crawford and a 16 point bulge, you just knew the Cats were going to give that up, didn't you?  Surely you did.  I know I did.  But a win is a win, and in every game, it seems like somebody (sometimes several somebodies) steps up to make huge free throws to rescue the game.

I really don't know whether to be frustrated or ecstatic.  It is mind-numbing to know that every game is going to be a nail-biting, pride-stealing siege, win or lose.  I have been watching Kentucky basketball for longer than many Big Blue fans have been out of diapers, and I can never remember a season with so many close games, literally decided by one or two possessions.  Every single game with the exception of two in this entire SEC season has been a barn-burner.  Surely, this is some kind of record.  It's almost like the movie Groundhog Day, where Bill Murray relives February 2nd over and over again until he gets it right.

With all that said, Kentucky did what they have done a lot of lately -- play just well enough to win.  Despite his hot start, Joe Crawford really cooled off in the second half, as did Patrick Patterson.  Ramel was off shooting all night, and made several Bad Ramel plays, but Good Ramel once again overcame his evil twin.  It is almost a game within a game just watching Bradley and trying to keep score of how many bonehead plays he makes, and subsequently atones for.  Sometimes, I think this is a giant goof God is playing on Kentucky fans, making us sit through wild finish after wild finish, consigning Cat fans to a purgatory of perpetual excitement and fear, and watching Bradley make you cheer and curse, often in the same breath.

My head is still spinning, so if this seems very "stream of consciousness," it's because it really is.  Patrick Patterson, Joe Crawford, and Ramel Bradley represent virtually 90% of Kentucky's offense, and we need all of them in order to win.  Perry Stevenson, bless his heart, can't seem to make a 15-foot shot unless it's a free throw, which he rarely misses.  Mark Coury can't make layups.  Ramon Harris, well, if he gets close enough to the basket he can get it in the hole, but that is rare.  Derrick Jasper still isn't himself, and at least he has an excuse.  Jodie Meeks would no doubt help, but once again he was riding the pine.

The bottom line for Kentucky, however, is that they have now won 8 games in the SEC, and need only win 2 more to reach ten.  It is very possible that UK could win 20 games this year counting the SEC tournament, and if you had told me that there was even a 30% chance of that back in December, I would have laughed in your face for a long, long time.  Big belly laughs, too.  Yet here they are, the Unbreathables, stealing our last breath every single game and looking at a possible 11-5 record if they win all their home games remaining (a giant challenge with Arkansas, Florida and Ole Miss coming in, but certainly possible).  Would that be enough to get us into the Big Dance?  I really don't know, but it would certainly get us considered.

Joe Crawford played great defense, Ramel Bradley had 11 rebounds, and Perry Stevenson had several huge blocks and made two critical free throws.  I can't say enough about Patrick Patterson's game, it was just excellent.  It always amazes me the shots that teams make against us, burying challenged threes from 22 feet and getting four-point plays from walk-ons.  That just makes me all more convinced of Divine game-playing.  I guess in the final analysis, it's hard to complain when you are winning.  But I do know one thing -- this season will be impossible to forget, ever.  It has been quite a ride, no matter where we get off.