Like this entire season has been, it was another up-and-down week for Kentucky basketball. Fresh off a big win against Missouri, Kentucky came out Wednesday night and destroyed a very bad Mississippi State squad. Ryan Harrow scored 19 points and a total of five players reached double figures against the Bulldogs, but the story of the night was the return of the 1996 National Championship team to receive specialized rings that were long overdue for one of the greatest teams in the history of college basketball. From all accounts, the atmosphere at Rupp Arena was fantastic for each of the last two home games in front of the College Gameday crew against Missouri and also for the 1996 team reunion vs. Mississippi State. Want to forget about that game in Fayetteville? Sounds good to me. Kentucky now has a chance to set up a great home court advantage for a third straight time against Florida on Saturday…if Kentucky can win Thursday night at Georgia.
If Kentucky does not beat Georgia on Thursday night, it would not be the end of the Cats’ hopes for an at-large bid, but it would put them in a very tough spot. A Georgia loss means that Florida is a survival game (a game they must win to stay alive, but doesn’t clinch anything), but a win at Georgia creates a situation where Kentucky will be able to come back home to Rupp Arena and probably punch their ticket to the NCAA Tournament with a win. With all of this on the line, and it also being Senior Day for Julius Mays, it has the opportunity to be a very, very big game with an exciting atmosphere at Rupp. 24,000 will show up regardless of the outcome of the Georgia game, but there will surely be a different buzz in the air depending on the outcome. If it’s a survival game, it will be an uneasy, nervous and possibly quiet crowd. If the Florida game is a “win and you’re in” situation, Rupp will be wild. For Kentucky to set up the best home court advantage they possibly can against Florida, they must win Thursday against Georgia.
Now on to some more news and notes…
–It was not all bad news this weekend for UK sports as the women earned a 78-65 victory against No. 8 Tennessee at Memorial Coliseum. A’dia Mathies’ scored 16 points on her Senior Day to help the Cats take down the Lady Vols and Kentucky finished the regular season with a 25-4 overall record (13-3 SEC). As a 2-seed in the SEC Tournament, their next game will be Friday night at 6 against the winner of 10-seed Vandy and 7-seed Missouri. Today’s win gave coach Matthew Mitchell his 139th career victory at UK, which makes him the winningest coach in UK women’s hoops history in only his 6th year on the job.
—The UK baseball team also won today, beating Akron, 9-2, and locking up a three-game series sweep of the Zips. Be sure to check out ksrcollege.com for more coverage of the No. 8 Bat Cats. The next time Kentucky (10-1) takes the diamond will be Tuesday at 4 pm at Cliff Hagan Stadium against Cincinnati. Beat the Bearcats.
–There was also good men’s basketball news this weekend concerning the fate of many of the other bubble teams. Ally Tucker has you covered with everything you need to know about the teams fighting with Kentucky for at-large spots right here. The most recent news on the bubble comes from Boston this evening, where Boston College knocked off Virginia, 53-52. The Cavaliers now fall to 20-9 with the loss. To keep up with the latest bracketology while you’re on the go, also be sure to download the ESPN Bracket Bound app.
–I posted a bootleg bracket earlier of the KHSAA Sweet 16 at Rupp Arena. Click here for the official bracket with all the dates and times you’ll need to see your team play at Rupp.
I’ll be back again Wednesday and more throughout this big week for the Cats. You can follow me on Twitter @wilmhoffCBB. Matt will be back on the radio for tomorrow morning’s show at 10.
Oh and did you say you wanted a picture of Patrick Patterson singing with Boyz II Men? Ok fine: