Welcome to the conference portion of the Kentucky basketball schedule- the unofficial second stage of the season.
UK opened their 18 game SEC slate with a 60-58 road victory against the Vanderbilt Commodores. The Wildcats controlled the game from the tip and there were many positives that fans can take away from the contest…for the first 30 minutes of the game. The Wildcats lead by 16 points and looked like they would cruise to an easy win AND then the Wildcats laid an egg for the remainder of the game but held on for a 2 point victory. This game perfectly sums up the entire season for the UK basketball team thus far this season. The team showed flashes of dominance as they imposed their will on the opponent but then show a lack of composure by letting a terrible Vandy team fight back. If it had not been for a Nerlens Noel lay-up after the shot clock buzzer, the Wildcats could have easily lost. Coming off the winter break where they had extensive practice time (aka- Camp Cal), I fully expected the team to take great strides of improvement. The last three games before this (Marshall, @UofL, and Eastern Michigan), the Wildcats have continued to compete and play at a high level but this game could be considered a step in the wrong direction. The good news for the team is that they were able to leave Nashville with a ‘W’ and hopefully the quick turnaround for Saturday’s Texas A&M game will give the team an opportunity to bounce back. Maybe the friendly confines of Rupp Arena will allow Kentucky to regain that momentum they had started to build prior to this game. At some point though, the Wildcats must prove that they can play with the composure to win on the road. The SEC is a very bad league this year and show provide many winnable games for Kentucky but if they cannot play better on the road then they will certainly take their lumps.
In closing, I think the best thing to do is just move on as quickly as possible. The fans shouldn’t overreact to their poor performance but that may be difficult for fans considering how awful UK looked in the last 10 minutes of the game. Texas A&M is next and it’s time to focus on getting back on track. Only time will tell what will become of this year’s Kentucky basketball team.