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With Panic Button In Sight, UK Prepares To Host UT

Here are three things most Bluegrass State residents never expected to see tied to together:

1.  Kentucky basketball
2.  John Calipari
3.  A 4-4 record midway through an SEC campaign

But that’s exactly what Cat fans will see today if they take a gander at the SEC East standings.  On the court, they’ll see a youthful team that only goes six-persons deep and that must mentally recover from back-to-back losses.  The first back-to-back losses for a Calipari team since 2005, by the way.

UK is also just 1-4 on the road in the SEC.  They have already lost four games by two-points.  Both facts can be attributed to youth which is why 2010-11 seems to be the flipside of the one-and-done coin for Kentucky fans. 

Last year, Calipari fielded youth that was ready for the NBA.  This year his youthful players are good… but they’re not that good.  UK’s team would certainly be better with Enes Kanter banging around in the paint, but Calipari was one of only a handful of coaches to even try to get that player through the NCAA’s red tape.  He knew the risks of chasing him.

So add it all up and the Wildcats are now 2.5 games behind Florida in the East.  Their season has had as many downs as it has ups and that’s not the way things are supposed to play out in Lexington.

Calipari is asking for patience as he tries to diagnose his team’s ills and come up with a cure.  “We’re close, but we’re not where we need to be,” the coach said after Saturday’s loss at Florida.  “I need to figure it out. … Let me do my job and figure it out.”

Coach Cal’s first chance to figure things out will come tomorrow night at Rupp Arena against Tennessee.  Neither team wants to fall another game behind the Gators in the East, so the stakes are high.  The storylines should be plentiful, too, as Bruce Pearl makes his return to the sidelines and the Vols try to collect yet another good RPI win away from home (to go along with Pitt and Villanova). 

Pearl says it’s “possible” that UT leading scorer Scotty Hopson will return to action after missing two games with a sprained ankle.  The Vols will need him at Rupp.

Tennessee has lost by an average of nearly 14 points in its last four trips to Lexington.  Senior center Brian Williams knows full well how tough it is to play at Rupp, even if he can’t explain why.

“Kentucky isn’t that loud; I’ve played in louder places,” Williams said.  “I can’t explain what it is about Rupp, but it’s something.  I guess it’s the old ghosts in there messing with you.”

Ghosts or not, Kentucky and Tennessee will face each other with plenty on the line Tuesday night.  First team to fix its issues wins.



I feel so bad for coach Cal, maybe he should call up World Wide Wes and tell him to send some more real one and done talent down to Kentuck? Hopefully, they never win another game.


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