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Team dinners helped mend a Wildcats team that was falling apart

Kentucky was on the verge of a lost season before something changed at Christmas.

Jason Marcum - Sea of Blue

The Kentucky Wildcats were struggling mightily after heading home after a tough few game stint in Las Vegas. The Cats lost to both the Ohio State Buckeyes and Utah Utes in Vegas, dropping their record to just 8-3.

That came after an early-season loss to Evansville, which, as John Calipari recently noted, will always be heard about from the nation media.

Well, this team has bounced back in a big way that few, if any saw coming. The Cats have clinched the regular season SEC Championship, winning their last eight straight games and losing just two in-conference matchups.

Assistant coach Joel Justus pointed to team meals and Camp Cal after tough stretches as the solution to the team’s stumbles.

“This is a group that really came together over Christmas. The Camp Cal days have changed with some new rules from the NCAA. What we were able to do was feed them and I think this group really came together over meals,” Justus said Monday.

Once the director of team analytics, Justus is in his fourth season as an assistant coach and is in his sixth year in Lexington, so he’s seen plenty of these Wildcat teams and how each has battle back from discouraging stretches of play.

“It’s amazing, when you look at it from our perspective, what meals can do for teams, what meals can do for families, and that has never been more obvious than with this team and how they came together after what I think we all would say was a rough Las Vegas trip,” Justus said.

The Wildcats have just two games, one against Tennessee tonight and one against Florida, until it’s time for the postseason. The SEC Tournament and then the NCAA Tournament will be waiting for a red-hot Wildcats teams that has come together and looks like a real threat to make the Final Four.