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Breaking down the rest of the season

The theme of this season has been one step forward and two steps back, right? Well, after Nerlens Noel’s heartbreaking injury, the Cats have definitely taken a step back as far as their NCAA Tournament resume goes. Yesterday, NCAA Selection Committee Chair Mike Bobinski said that the group will watch the Cats closely over the next 4 1/2 weeks of basketball to see how they perform without Nerlens, but that they would take their performance on the season as a whole into consideration as well. So, with seven games and the SEC Tournament left, let’s take a look at each matchup to see what the Cats have to do to make it to the Big Dance:

February 16th: at Tennessee

Obviously, this is the most important game for a variety of reasons. It will be our first glimpse of the Flat-Top free Cats, which still makes my stomach lurch a bit, and I don’t expect to be a fluid transition to say the least. Jarnell Stokes has improved a lot since his last outing against the Cats back in January, when Nerlens Noel held him to 4 points and 5 rebounds. Since then, he’s averaging 16.1 points and 10.6 rebounds. Willie Cauley-Stein can’t let Stokes push him around in the paint, and must challenge him on the offensive end. More importantly, the Cats must show some team unity and fire in the wake of Noel’s injury. They’ve lacked both most of the season, but with their postseason chances on the line and no Nerlens to lean on, it’s make or break time.

Status: MUST WIN

February 20th: VANDERBILT

Vanderbilt is terrible, and if we can’t beat them at home….well, maybe we don’t deserve to go to the Tournament.

Status: MUST WIN

February 23rd: MISSOURI (GAMEDAY)

Missouri has been in a bit of a slump during the conference season, especially away from home, losing all four SEC road games so far. The Tigers lost their top 25 ranking after losing at Texas A&M, but managed to win at Mississippi State, a feat not quite worth bragging about. The Cats will need the support of a rowdy home crowd on GameDay to keep the Tigers at bay.

Status: TOSS-UP


Mississippi State is bad. Like “lost nine straight” bad. We should welcome them into Rupp with open arms. Hopefully the Cats can gain some confidence during this game, especially with Andrew Wiggins watching in the stands.

Status: MUST WIN

March 2nd: at Arkansas

This is where things start to get tricky. At home, the Razorbacks are 14-3 this season and undefeated in conference play. Bud Walton Arena is so kind that it helped them upset mighty Florida, 80-69. The Razorbacks are rolling behind BJ Young and Marshall Powell, a physical power forward who could be a matchup nightmare for the Cats. Even with Nerlens, this game would be a challenge.

Status: TOSS-UP

March 7th: at Georgia

Georgia is 6-5 in conference play and like their record would suggest, are neither great nor ghastly. They’ve lost to Florida twice, and Missouri once. They’ve got a string of wins over the SEC mid-level teams, but their loss to Mississippi State and offensive woes have me thinking that this could be a manageable win for the Cats.

Status: MUST WIN

March 9th: FLORIDA

Even on Senior Day, this ain’t gonna happen. I’d love to be wrong. However, if the team can rally behind a strong crowd, a win over Florida would be a huge boost to the Cats’ resume.

Status: NO WAY

March 13th – 17th: SEC Tournament

Depending on their record coming in, I think the Cats need at least two wins in the SEC Tournament to comfortably make the Big Dance. Obviously, the easiest way to insure their ticket is to win the whole thing, but even the most optimistic part of me doesn’t see that happening.

So, to sum up, I think the Cats need to win at least five on their remaining seven games to comfortably go dancing. Looking at the schedule, there are four relatively easy wins, two games that could go either way, and one game that may be out of reach. We’ll know much more about how this team will respond after Saturday, but let me hear your thoughts.

Article written by Mrs. Tyler Thompson

No, I will not make you a sandwich, but you can follow me on Twitter @MrsTylerKSR or email me.

43 Comments for Breaking down the rest of the season

  1. John Ellis
    4:04 pm February 14, 2013 Permalink

    Well, the factor not being factored is that Cal is a really good coach and he won’t lie down and just let the season die. This team has lots of talent that hasn’t fit together, and good kids from all reports. This should focus the team and bring out the leadership qualities that have been seen in Mays, Wiltjer, Willie, Polson…It could in fact become a better TEAM. I’d hope that nationally it would be recognized how good Nerlens really is, but he’ll probably have to come back to show that.

  2. Catlogic15
    4:07 pm February 14, 2013 Permalink

    Did you have to title it “Breaking down….?”

  3. Duck Butter
    4:15 pm February 14, 2013 Permalink

    Thanks for posting this Tyler. We really do have a season that is starting right now. Before the injury we were looking at around an 8 seed barring any kind of meltdown. This team will have no room for error and will have to win a game or two that they weren’t supposed to win. At least no one is expecting anything now and the pressure is off IMO

  4. RICK
    4:20 pm February 14, 2013 Permalink

    Need a win at Tenn.sat. or its over with.

    4:21 pm February 14, 2013 Permalink

    U all continue to amaze me how blinded by blue u r that u can’t see facts. WITH NERLENS, this team is showing how offensively challenged they are and the mental incompetence that is taking place….they easily could’ve lost 5 of these last 8 WITH NERLENS….but WITHOUT, the ONLY games u can say u feel remotely ok about are Vandy and Miss St and that’s cuz they suck. U know damn well how tricky on the road in the SEC is…u think this team can “find itself” offensively WITHOUT THEIR BEST PLAYER…….as the song goes, “blinded by the light”

  6. PA Kat
    4:24 pm February 14, 2013 Permalink

    The bottom line result will be one or all the players not living up to our expectations or their capabilities in the remaining games. There is no magic that is going to occur that’s going to create a turnaround. Limping into the tournament and being eliminated early will be the most likely result. Like my ol’ Granny used to say, “You can’t make chicken salad out of chicken s**t!” Breathe In, Breathe Out, Move On!

  7. BusterBrown
    4:24 pm February 14, 2013 Permalink

    its jon hood time. no way against the gators at home? really no way?

  8. Go Deep
    4:25 pm February 14, 2013 Permalink

    We probably don’t lose again until the final four.

  9. Whut
    4:26 pm February 14, 2013 Permalink

    What does ‘Wants Afternoon Notes & Podcast’ actually mean?

  10. White Castle Sliders
    4:27 pm February 14, 2013 Permalink

    I think Cats lose remaining road games (might squeak out win at GA) and lose at home to FLA and Mizzou. And will Win one game in the SEC tourney….. be lucky to make the big NCAA dance.

  11. Onions
    4:29 pm February 14, 2013 Permalink

    #7 if Jon Hood is the X factor then yeah really. But I think UK will battle in every game left

  12. Ozark Mountain Daredevil
    4:29 pm February 14, 2013 Permalink

    I was still hoping we’d win the NIT with Gillispie. I was in serious denial. Kinda of just want us to save face this season. Not even sure if these guys next season even live up to the hype. Cal not wearing a tie disturbs me. Looks disheveled. That is all.

  13. jaws2
    4:30 pm February 14, 2013 Permalink

    Agree #4, we drop TN game this, team folds like a cheap suit. Not enough courage on this team as of yet. I hope I’m wrong.

  14. mudcreekmark
    4:32 pm February 14, 2013 Permalink

    Thank goodness the SEC in terrible this year. Can you imagine what our record would be right now if the SEC was half was decent. Mississippi State is reaping what it sewed by running Stansbury off. He had some really good teams down there and they were never, ever, this horrendous.

  15. LOL
    4:33 pm February 14, 2013 Permalink

    I have to say, reading these comments on this thread is very comical. What a bunch of mopey sad sacks most of you are! Even though #8 is being sarcastic, at least its not a sky is falling, woe is us comment. LOSERS Try to find some ray of positivity. Geez the world is not ending. Kiss your wife or girlfriend and go enjoy a nice Valentine’s Day dinner and a good lay. Then maybe you won’t wallow in your misery! Go Cats… beat the Vols by 15 in Knoxville Saturday to win one for the flat top feller…

  16. inlinefor9
    4:35 pm February 14, 2013 Permalink

    This sucks.

  17. MtnCat
    4:35 pm February 14, 2013 Permalink

    So you saying there’s a chance?

    Two or three that have been MIA lately are going to have to man up. Play big or stay home, it’s that simple.

  18. dave
    4:42 pm February 14, 2013 Permalink

    Tubby is so awesome that he’s perpetually on fire.

    That seat is burning up.

    UK made such a HUGE mistake letting Flubby get away.

  19. NIT
    4:45 pm February 14, 2013 Permalink

    Welcome to me!!!

  20. NIT
    4:46 pm February 14, 2013 Permalink

    Not hatin’ but that is what Kentucky is looking at unless Goodwin, Poythress AND Harrow step it up big time.

    I didn’t think much would happen this year anyway. No biggie…

    Go Big Blue!

  21. theWilkman
    4:47 pm February 14, 2013 Permalink

    Overall good analysis, but it’s nearly impossible to predict how this team plays without Nerlens. The UT game will show us what we’re working with. Without him, this team could range anywhere from “Inspired by star players injury and gut out the necessary wins” to “Complete and utter death-spiral”.

  22. mudcreekmark
    4:47 pm February 14, 2013 Permalink

    I get tired of everyone saying we have a lot of “talent” and they just haven’t gelled. We have some athletic players on the team but I wouldn’t say we have a bunch of “talented” players. “Talent” to me would be a set of skills.Skills sets would be dribbling, shooting, passing, defense, rebounding, hustle plays. So lets take for example these players and do they or don’t they have the skill set:
    Goodwin-Dribbling-yes,Shooting-No,Passing-no,defense-no,rebounding-no,hustle plays-no
    Poythress-Dribbling-no,Shooting-yes,Passing-no,defense-no,rebounding-no,hustle plays-no.
    These are the two players that everyone keeps talking about that they are so “talented”. No they are not “talented” they are athletic. There are alot of athletic kids around the country. Once you get to Division I basketball almost everyone is athletic, you have to have more than one skill set to be considered “talented” in my opinion.

  23. NIT
    4:47 pm February 14, 2013 Permalink

    You can make my Final Four!!!

    YEAH BABY!!!

  24. Now that were moving on...
    4:54 pm February 14, 2013 Permalink

    Should Cal be bringing Ryan harrow off the bench and allowing Julius mays to run the offense, but suffer by having to find his own shot. Or give Archie the lead and hope for some improvement? One thing is certain, Ryan is playing with bad energy throughout the game so maybe in spurts Cal can motivate him. The lineup of Cauley Wiltjer Poythress Goodwin Mays has to be the one to carry the team. It’s a very efficient and spread out lineup and a “potential” spark plug scorer like Ryan harrow could do arguably better than Russ smith did for Louisville in last years final four run. We could do it too!

  25. Bobby Knight's Shrink
    4:56 pm February 14, 2013 Permalink

    Sorry, but Cats will be lucky to make the NIT now !!! Btw, has a team ever won National Championships sandwiched around an NIT appearance….didn’t think so !

  26. Caftan09
    4:57 pm February 14, 2013 Permalink

    Noel will be greatly missed…but let’s not forget that throughout the season there were times when Noel had to sit and our offense went on to get red hot. Of course we’re a much better team with the remarkable talents of #3, but my positive outlook of this season has yet to be diminished. BBN prays for Noel’s speedy recovery.

  27. jlove
    5:00 pm February 14, 2013 Permalink

    So we have an off year. This team can still gel, but if they don’t, they don’t. Next year’s team could play in the NBA, so I for one am thankful the days late-era Tubby and Billy G. are long gone. Let’s just support the team for the rest of the season and hope they figure it out.

  28. Biglaw Dawgin'
    5:04 pm February 14, 2013 Permalink

    Kentucky is #43 in RPI and around 50 is usually the cutoff (depending on the automatic bids), so I think 5 out of 7 wins would put them squarely on the bubble. We really have no great wins as Ole Miss and Maryland are tanking (which hurts our RPI). If we lose 3 of those, kiss it goodbye. I do think Florida is beatable, anything can happen at Rupp.

  29. 24)
    5:06 pm February 14, 2013 Permalink

    26 & 27) I think all of BBN would agree.
    but 25) Consider Kentucky’s team now has a completely new identity, the bench has gotten shorter and yet is going to swell with PT. SEC recruited forwards like Jon Hood and Twany Beckham will be in against SEC foes, and battle tested jarrod Polson and Ryan harrow could bring energy and defense to back up our guards. These men have just faced adversity so now it’s on to see if they find their identity. That’s what will decide our postseason not your phony talk.

  30. BusterBrown
    5:17 pm February 14, 2013 Permalink

    If remember the titans taught us anything, its that teams that lose their best player to an injury always wins the championship. its a lock.

  31. wubwub
    5:24 pm February 14, 2013 Permalink

    If we’re just going by RPI, losing to Mizzou at home would be worse than losing to Tennessee on the road. It would be about the same as losing to Arky on the road. None of those are must win IMO, but you need to win two of them. Other than that, spot on. A loss to Vandy or Miss St. at home and the season is scuttled. Georgia would be a bad loss (that might actually be the most dangerous game in terms of likelihood of losing vs impact of loss) and losing to Florida would do no damage while winning would do a ton of good.

  32. Jim
    5:26 pm February 14, 2013 Permalink

    Pull up the stakes and fold the tent, it’s over for this year. And I sure as hell don’t want to go to the NIT, forget it .

  33. Recruit well?
    5:38 pm February 14, 2013 Permalink

    @mudcreekmark I agree. But Cal and staff saw something in them and recruited to UK. Did they not see their shortcomings, then? Or even if Cal did, I guess he thought he could turn around these kids with his coaching skills. Apparently Cal is struggling. Let’s hope for the best next year, guys. This season is over.

  34. Negative Nancy
    5:44 pm February 14, 2013 Permalink

    This team without Noel is like taking a bowl of punch with a turd in it and then dumping out all the punch.

  35. doronslamb
    6:22 pm February 14, 2013 Permalink

    Why are some of you so dang depressing…come on…everyone of you are underestimating one thing…CALIPARI…this team is exactly where I thought they would be before the season…and as unfortunate as it is to lose Noel…just wait to see what a motivator CAL is this Saturday…Poythress will avg 16 a game the rest of the way…picking up the offense we lose with Nerlens…Wilch will step up as well and don’t be suprised to see us use more of a zone defense either…mark it down now…4 wins in a row and a convincing home win against Florida..only loss will be Arkansas…you depressing idiots are killing me…this team is still very talented and Cal will bring the best out of them…besides that all the pressure is off now…everyone predicting them to fail will make them play looser and more confident…we will also give a 1 or 2 seed all they want in the tourney also

  36. Pierce Buster
    6:29 pm February 14, 2013 Permalink

    Does anybody else find themselves wondering “How did we get here?” or “Is this like Billy G’s years?” Wait wait wait, I know, I know, this is way different than Billy G’s teams. But his 2nd and final season, the talk was “will we make the tournament?” As arrogant and spoiled as it sounds, we should virtually never be asking ourselves that question. The injury to Nerlens is absolutely devastating in a cornucopia of ways. However, is this not exceptionally maddening to anyone else? Would we have made the tournament in year 1 had Wall gone down… I’d think so. If B. Knight had gone down in Year 2… maybe a bit “diceyier.” Would we have made the dance last year without Anthony… made, yes. National Title, maybe not. Just some food for thought here was we all attempt to cope with the loss of Nerlens, the Bubble Talk, and Pete Thamel (anytime). GO BIG BLUE!

  37. Mc
    6:36 pm February 14, 2013 Permalink

    #24 we have one guy who can beat the press off the dribble, but hides in his shell too much. Florida ran the press and had good success with it. I wish we had a guy like Teague that was quick and had some toughness and confidence. Is what it is though. If this team had confidence and toughness they’d have a shot. However the one tough guy with the talent to match it is gone. So who’s going to lead? I’ll still cheer them on don’t get me wrong, but someone is going to have to lead whether vocally or by example.

  38. Mc
    6:44 pm February 14, 2013 Permalink

    30) this is a terrible perimeter defensive team and Nerlens bailed them out all the time. Their zone is weak because they don’t have court awareness and don’t communicate like they should. So feel free to call people idiots that are trying to discuss the team as fans. I’ll cheer my ass off every game. I just watch game after game how guys play lazy d. You can’t teach effort. Cal is trying his best though. It is what it is. Mays and wiltjer aren’t athletic. Harrow is fragile like a delicate flower. Poythress doesn’t have a motor and Goodwin loses his focus. WCS is not a great shot blocker either. Polson tries, but he simply doesn’t have the ability. Especially when pressured. I just hope they play hard, and have some fun. Maybe they’ll find it and prove me wrong.

  39. Mc
    6:44 pm February 14, 2013 Permalink


  40. Beavis
    9:28 pm February 14, 2013 Permalink

    That jersey still says Kentucky on the front. Cal is still the coach. Team will be fine. Will have to adjust the D some but they will be fine.

  41. Duke Sucks
    10:16 pm February 14, 2013 Permalink

    I think we make the NCAA for sure, but I would put Missou as a must win. We need that game for a quality win. I don’t think we beat Flordia with Nerlens because they are good and have a real shot at winning it all this year.
    If you look at how the last couple teams have done after winning the championship I think you will find UK is about on par with them! The North Carolina team that lost everybody to the pros should be a good measuring stick for this team.

  42. Zo
    11:21 pm February 14, 2013 Permalink

    If our guards can gaurd the three,and get Stien the ball on postups where he doesn’t have to dribble to close to the basket.I think Stiens gonna represent well.He has a good motor,especially with him as the starter.He’s a big body,that can hit a freethrow if needed too.Bet he has a double double Sat.Draft contension maybe ,I could see that as a possibility?How can Wiltjer score 17+pts in like three staright doesn’t matter,it’s a new day Kyle your our leader play your strengths.Both of them are good friends,and I think they will play well together.From here on out Poythrees will be fine.The dude is homesick and has no family here?Wrong ,these are your Brothers dude wake up Terrance I mean Alex!Dude we are your family!Archie needs to change his game up alittle too,needs postups,fakes and some spins inside.Can you go right for your to predictable.Fades,runners,step your game up or the season is over my man!Mays needs like 9 three pt.shots a game.But we need him hitting more freethrows some how?Polson and Hood need more shots too.Play your strenghts Ryan.Compliment one another and just come out and work on one common goal “A WIN”.Theres still a chance.I think with Noel being out will bring this team together.I still have faith, still yet.It will be fun to watch what happens.Cal’s not gonna let us go down without a fight for sure.GO CATS!!!!!!!

  43. Wesley
    8:38 am February 15, 2013 Permalink

    Our inability to rebound and play defense will be our downfall. Without Nerlens to clean up our poor defense and pull down some defensive boards, it will be a layup drill the remainder of the season. Who’s going to be the guy to step up on D, Wiltjer, WCS? No way. I will be cheering for my boys during this trying time, but I see us dropping 5 of the next 7. I guess there’s still some hope, Archie Goodwin is “made for big moments.”