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Will the Wildcats end the year with a whimper?

The Wildcats are getting ready for their toughest opponents yet and they still look far from ready.

Sea of Blue

The Kentucky Wildcats are in trouble. Losing to the Utah Utes 69-66 in Las Vegas is bad enough but to be down 17 points to a team that lost to Coastal Carolina and Tulane makes it worse. And you know what made it EVEN worse? Utah looked like bullies while the Cats whimpered around the arena for the majority of the game.

Let’s be real here, folks: this has been the most uninspired non-conference slate in the John Calipari Era and the team is living up to (down to?) the malaise it has elicited. Calipari did his best to hide his team with foes like Fairleigh Dickinson, EKU, UAB, and...Evansville.

But the Cat is creeping out of the bag. They are 1-1 against their last two Power 5 Foes. And before you tell me that they beat the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets by double digits, consider the following: Josh Pastner’s team led in the first half, was within striking distance with 10 minutes to play, lost to Syracuse by 34, and they just lost to Ball State 65-47.

Yeah. Puke worthy, right?

After their last poor outing against the Utes, fans can’t be too optimistic in regards to their last two December opponents. The Ohio State Buckeyes and the Louisville Cardinals are top five teams. They’re big, they play excellent defense, and they can hit threes. The Kentucky Wildcats have only one thing in common with those two teams: they’re big.

Three point shooting continues to be dreadful: John Calipari says he doesn’t have the answer.

The defense continues to give opponents wide open looks from three: John Calipari says they have to work harder on defense and want it more.

Camp Cal is clearly not working with this team: John Calipari says maybe he should end practice early today so he can go watch Brad play in Detroit.

Yes, I’m being heavy handed here, but what else am I supposed to write? This team just doesn’t look good and there’s no sugarcoating it or hiding it. There is a chance they could get absolutely obliterated on Saturday. And there is a chance they can win.

But in order to win they are going to have to do some things we haven’t seen them do all season long. And it’s going to take more than just Ashton Hagans and Tyrese Maxey playing well. Nick Richards cannot disappear again. EJ Montgomery has to ball out against actual competition.

Immanuel Quickley has to hit some threes. Keion Brooks has to be more a part of the offense. Nate Sestina has to do what he was brought to Kentucky to do at Kentucky and stretch out the defense.

Kahlil Whitney has to be physical, rebound and attack the basket. Johnny Juzang has to do something other than brick shots and looked like a lost soul on the court.

I’m sorry for being so negative. There is a silver-lining here: the SEC as a conference is putrid. Even if the Cats lose the last three games in December they can bounce back in conference play. But the tournament resume build takes a huge hit if they can’t get at least one of the next two games.

It’s not DEFCON 5 just yet, but I am sitting at DEFCON 3. The regular season is already a third complete and they have major work to do.