Kentucky showed they have Final Four potential | Sports

Getting a gauge of how good this University of Kentucky basketball team is, or could become, has been difficult at best for more than two months of regular season play.

UK had won by wide margins and scored plenty of points in some of those games which amounted to 13 wins before last Saturday.

He had also beaten a lot of bad teams and didn’t look so hot in the final minutes of the three lost games. Two of them were good opponents – Duke, at LSU and at Notre Dame.

Not executing the time won in these matchups was becoming an undesirable mark for these Wildcats.

Then Saturday arrived. Tennessee participated in a major SEC game with Kentucky at Rupp Arena. UK played their best attacking game in years, scored 107 points, shot like they were never going to miss.

Tennessee put together their own offensive numbers that would have won, oh, 98% of those games. Instead, UT finished on the short end with a score of 107-79.

Kentucky made a emphatic statement with this victory in a few areas.

For those wondering around BBN and beyond, Kentucky showed on Saturday that they are definitely capable of reaching the Final Four in early April.

UK can get there by repeating, or coming close to, what they shot at UT.

It sounded and looked so simple.

The Wildcats were playing full and utter basketball. Like old-school basketball. Passing a good shot for a better shot.

England point guard Sahvir Wheeler said defense was the catalyst for England’s attacking numbers.

“Ultimately it starts on the defensive end,” Wheeler said Saturday. “That’s where we play as one unit. We play as a fist, and you can see us talking and communicating. And, like I said, that’s what brings us to what we do the better. In the summer we spent four months, six months running and flying.

There were no less than 10 viewings on Saturday where you would have been moved to say, “This is amazing.

The wonder of it all was amplified by the time that had passed since Kentucky hadn’t played that way.

That never happened last season as the UK struggled to show anything cohesive or unified on the attacking side of the pitch.

It would be hard to say you could see Saturday coming, honestly. The quality was so up there.

Certainly a lot of energy came from the aftermath of Joe B. Hall’s passing early on Saturday morning and from the UK who prepared a wonderful video tribute before the game. Players got the energy back, of course, though they may not have had the full connection to Hall’s legacy.

What Kentucky did with all of that came through when they scored on 46 of 69 possessions for a season-high 1.55 points per possession.

If a team gets close to that level of efficiency late in the season and defends well, that’s a combination to put you within reach of a national championship – getting the Final Four to qualify like that.

Kentucky’s 14 wins this season have been in double digits.

The UK will want this trend to continue as they try to claim No. 15. That chance will present itself when the UK travel to Texas A&M on Wednesday. It’s the match before the UK’s highly anticipated road trip to Auburn on Saturday.

Kentucky moved up to No. 12 after the win over UT. Auburn sits at No. 2 in the nation just behind Gonzaga. In the AP Top 25 released Monday, Auburn earned 36 first-place votes to Gonzaga’s 25.

John Calipari warned Monday night on his weekly radio show that A&M should not be overlooked. A&M has won eight straight and defeated Notre Dame.

The coaching staff works on the team to stay focused on what’s right in front of them.

“I stay in the moment,” Calipari said Monday. “We have to go game by game, and are we improving in what we need to do to win in March?”

Winning in March will take the UK to that first weekend in April. The Wildcats can continue to show this week that they belong.

About Harold Fergus

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