Happy Mardi Gras! For those of you in New Orleans, that means you’ve probably already been partying for hours. For those of you not in New Orleans, it means you’ll probably eat a king cake at work tomorrow and maybe have a drink afterwards with some beads around your neck. (Don’t worry, I won’t ask how you got them.) Sadly, I have yet to experience Mardi Gras in person, but something tells me it seems much, much more glamorous than it actually is (where do all those people go to the bathroom? Exactly.), but you know, laissez les bons temps rouler!
Feel free to share your Mardi Gras memories (both remembered and reminded) in the comments section. And yes, those are mini pictures of Anthony Davis’ mom wearing her unibrow Mardi Gras mask next to each news and view.
A little bit of order was restored around lunchtime on Monday, when the latest AP poll was released and the Cats were back in at #25. It’s the first time the Cats have been back in the poll since their back-to-back losses to Notre Dame and Baylor back in early December. Although they didn’t make the Coaches’ Top 25, they have to excellent opportunities to impress this week as they head to Gainesville to take on #7 Florida and Knoxville on Saturday to attempt to complete the sweep of Tennessee. First thing’s first: the Gators, who are currently a 9.5-point favorite.
Three weeks ago, who would have thought Kentucky would had the chance to compete for first place in the league? It hasn’t been pretty, but the Cats are riding a five-game winning streak with an 8-2 conference record. Beating Florida will be a tall task, but according to Cal, it’s the test this squad needs to see where they stand heading into the home stretch. Everything about Tuesday night spells big-game atmosphere; ESPN is even bringing in Dickie V. for the occasion, which feels like an old-fashioned SEC fight between the conference’s two powerhouses. Will the Cats rise to the challenge? Step one is strong guard play, which brings us to the plight of Archie Goodwin.
Goodwin is the latest Cat in Cal’s doghouse after a string of bad games, the most recent being an abysmal outing against Auburn. During his rounds with the media on Monday, Cal said Archie needs to “lose himself” in the team, meaning he needs to stop worrying about messing up and just move on to the next play. He brought up Michael Kidd-Gilchrist’s “awful” game against Florida in the SEC Tournament Semi-finals, a performance so bad that he compared it to Archie’s outing against Auburn on Saturday. The difference between the two (besides, well…everything)? MKG didn’t give up. He kept fighting and ended grabbing the two game-winning rebounds. Archie has to stop overthinking and find other ways to help the team win than flinging himself at the basket to get fouled.
Based on his comments to the media, Archie is ready for the challenge: “I love playing big games. These are the type of games I feel like I was made for and I know this team was made for. I feel like we’re going to go out there and get a win.” Let’s say it together now: “PASS THE BALL ARCHIE!”
Archie’s struggles are just some of the many things the team is getting through together. Cal said that each night, the team sits down with the book “God Never Blinks: 50 Lessons for Life’s Little Detours” and goes over a chapter. After looking over the Table of Contents, Lesson 16 seems particularly pertinent: “Life is too short for long pity parties. Get busy living, or get busy dying.” **Morgan Freeman voice**
Someone who is getting busy living? Jarrod Polson. Cal heaped praise on Wilmore’s finest for his performance against Auburn, which he says is proof that he can play him for at least 15 minutes in big games like tomorrow’s against Florida. “You stick him in the game and he just plays his butt off. And then everybody says, why won’t the other guys watch that and do that? He’s doing it. Doesn’t mean he makes every shot, doesn’t mean he doesn’t turn it over. Once a game, he’s going to get it stripped, accept it, don’t get mad, coach. He’s going to dribble down, the guy is going to take it from him, shoot a lay-up but his energy, his effort, his toughness, everybody watches. Guys, play like that. ‘Well, I don’t’ have to.’ Why? ‘I’m better than that.’ Well, not really.”
And yes, you’re right in remembering that Louisville is an adidas school and yes, we will get the pleasure of seeing the Cards wear them at some point this season.
To beat the Gators, the Cats will have to stop the three and avoid turnovers. Forward Will Yeguete will be out again after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery last week, which means Florida will use a four guard lineup like they did with success against Mississippi State. We’ve already talked about Archie Goodwin’s struggles, but the Cats’ guard play in general has been weak as of late. In the last three games, they’ve committed 46 turnovers, and Florida’s Mike Rosario, Kenny Boynton, and Scottie Wilbekin will capitalize on every weak take, mistake and hesitation. Eat your Wheaties, Ryan and Archie.
Don’t think for a second Florida is overlooking this game. The Gators have dropped five in a row to the Cats, including three last season. Florida guard Scottie Wilbekin said that last year’s losses still smolder: “It’s always going to be in the back of our minds that they beat us three times last year, but it’s a new year and we have things that we’re focused on this year and that’s winning an SEC championship. And in order to do that, we need to beat them, so it’s an important game.”
Your much-requested Tevin Lawson update: Apparently the Louisiana 4-star DT very much enjoyed his visit to Kentucky over the weekend and the family met on Monday night to discuss his decision. Rumor had it that Lawson’s mother wasn’t comfortable with her baby leaving Louisiana, but the visit to Kentucky left them so impressed that it may not be a concern much longer. Stay tuned…
Finally, a reminder that tickets for the ESPN College GameDay taping on Saturday, February 23rd will be available starting Wednesday, February 13th at 6 p.m. ET via Ticketmaster. The tickets are free of charge, but you’ll still have to pay the Ticketmaster service fee. Sorry.
Big day coming up. Get some rest and we’ll do our best to get you ready for the Gators in the most ridiculous manner possible.