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What does Kentucky need before the postseason?

(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

Although I’m sure it pains them greatly, even ESPN can’t ignore how well Kentucky’s playing right now (in my mind, they have folders of Duke and North Carolina graphics on deck in hopes the Cats falter down the stretch). In fact, one analyst, Myron Medcalf, seems to have quite a crush on Kentucky, penning a column after their win over Vandy a few weeks ago about how they are “the clear National Title favorite.” During a “watercooler convo” (oh brother) previewing this weekend’s games, Metcalf and Eamonn Brennan discussed whether or not the Commodores could pull off an upset tomorrow, and what Kentucky needs to do to prepare for the postseason:

MM: …I actually think Vandy-Kentucky will be a great game. It was a great matchup when they met Jan. 11. Vandy held its own and even secured a late lead. And the Wildcats haven’t looked invincible over their past three games. Do you smell an upset?

EB: I do not. Sure, Vandy hung around with Kentucky in Nashville. Sure, the Commodores made a late push. And yeah, Kentucky was tested. But it passed with flying colors. That last four minutes, UK flipped some sort of crazy-defense switch. It was like the Wildcats all looked at each other and said, “This team isn’t scoring again.” And Vanderbilt didn’t. Other than an unlikely barrage of 3s, I don’t know how Kevin Stallings’ team solves the UK riddle. It’s very difficult to imagine.

MM: True. The Wildcats have that switch. It’s like they just wait to use it when necessary. Vulnerable is probably the wrong word. They’ve just looked bored during their past three games. It’s like they’re waiting for a big challenge. Vandy, like Ole Miss and MSU, put up a fight for a stretch. And then, boom! The Wildcats took off. Good or bad, in terms of national title hopes, that Kentucky is cruising like this? Would it be better served by a tough game right now to get ready for March?

EB: I’m sure the Wildcats’ coach would prefer that each of the rest of their games be like Mississippi State — a team that came out guns blazing with an upset in mind, forcing Kentucky to react and overcome in the second half. At this point in the season, UK doesn’t need confidence boosts or dominant, wow-we’re-awesome, 40-point victories. There’s a lot more value to hard-fought games, because in the tournament, you have to win six increasingly difficult ones. Better to get this young team used to that now.

In fact, if I’m John Calipari, I’m hoping Anthony Davis gets in foul trouble Saturday. Not because I want to lose, of course. But because I want my team to learn how to play without him, in case such a scenario arises in the tournament. It very well could.

MM: I agree. That’s the scenario that terrifies Kentucky fans. Sweet 16 game versus Wichita State, and AD picks up two fouls in the first 10 minutes of the game.

Brennan makes a good point–the few times the Cats have struggled this season have been when Davis is on the bench. He’s the anchor of the team both offensively and defensively. And while I certainly don’t advocate Davis willingly getting himself into foul trouble, it would be nice to hone our game plan for when he is. I also agree that this team would be best served with a “close” win (this team’s “close” is ten points) that challenges them and teaches them something than a twenty-five point blowout. So Vandy: drop the Jekyll and Hyde act and bring it tomorrow.

If you could pick between the two, which would you prefer, close win or blowout?

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.

55 Comments for What does Kentucky need before the postseason?

  1. Your comment is awaiting moderation
    4:03 pm February 24, 2012 Permalink

    close game first, then a blowout in the second half

  2. SexnNursinHomes
    4:07 pm February 24, 2012 Permalink

    Look Mr Myron Medcalf. I’m sure you are a great guy, you probably even wash your hands after you piss. But no way in hell will I be terrified if AD gets 2 fouls versus Wichita State. Against Syracuse, Yeah, I’ll be crappin’ bricks.

  3. Coal keeps the lights on
    4:08 pm February 24, 2012 Permalink

    Just me but I think a repeat of 96 wouldn’t be a bad thing.1 loss early then maybe close loss in sec champion game would not be a bad thing just 2 keep them grounded.NO one will convince me patino didn’t coach to lose that game.

  4. mocha
    4:08 pm February 24, 2012 Permalink

    blowout. put those better than thou vandy fans in their place. also hope someone donkey punches chain-gang.

  5. bloobloodcat
    4:08 pm February 24, 2012 Permalink

    The Mantis in foul trouble in the first two minutes…….AND a 40 point blowout win of course!

  6. Megan
    4:09 pm February 24, 2012 Permalink

    Blowout. For 40 minutes. If Cal wants to experiment with Davis, there’s no need for him to pick up fouls. Just take him out of the game.

  7. SexnNursinHomes
    4:10 pm February 24, 2012 Permalink

    6- first thing I thought of.

  8. kycat
    4:13 pm February 24, 2012 Permalink

    i think we need more close ones like miss. st. until the last 10 minutes or so..

  9. NYCAT
    4:14 pm February 24, 2012 Permalink

    Easy – Blowout. We want to assert our dominance. Send a message to anyone who may still have doubts. Let them know who owns this game.

    PS: As for the idea of not wanting the overall #1 seed: WEAK. Historically the #1 seed has a low chance of cutting down nets, but aiming for less than the top stop is cowardice.

  10. NYCAT
    4:14 pm February 24, 2012 Permalink

    *top spot

  11. BillGar
    4:16 pm February 24, 2012 Permalink

    We’ve had a couple close wins recently. They look humble. A blowout wouldn’t hurt at this point, and who doesn’t LOVE to blow out Vandy!

  12. Miller time
    4:18 pm February 24, 2012 Permalink

    thursday night we need to show much love to darius miller. He’s been through the ups and downs of kentucky basketball. We as a fan base need to show the kentucky boy how much we really appreciate him

    4:19 pm February 24, 2012 Permalink

    Blowout. It’s Vandy…… V A N D Y.


  14. Big C
    4:19 pm February 24, 2012 Permalink

    Crush em!

  15. yearsendingin8
    4:19 pm February 24, 2012 Permalink

    I would like to see us blow Florida out again.

  16. NashBlue
    4:21 pm February 24, 2012 Permalink

    Ditto #13. Blowout.

  17. best1978
    4:22 pm February 24, 2012 Permalink

    Losses are for losers.

  18. GDOK
    4:22 pm February 24, 2012 Permalink

    Nowhere is it written that you have to have close games!!!! If I play against my 8 year old I’ll trounce him evertime. It’s because I’m that much better than him. It just may be that we are that much better than the other teams. Just play our game and don’t worry about close or blow-out!!! Just win.

  19. Nintendo
    4:23 pm February 24, 2012 Permalink

    The bigger the lead in the game the less I drink. The less I drink the more my wife loves me. The more my wife loves me the more nookie I get. I say blowout.

  20. BBN
    4:24 pm February 24, 2012 Permalink

    Blowout! You dont want to have to struggle at home against a team that you beat by 6 on the road. Especially not this late in the season. Give me two more solid, dominant performances at home against Vandy and Georgia, then let them get tested on the road at Florida. Then I wouldn’t mind seeing a tight game or two in the SEC tourny.

  21. DavisBrow
    4:26 pm February 24, 2012 Permalink

    If it were any other game, I wouldn’t mind it being close. The MSU game was a nice spark in desperation I hadn’t felt in a while, and it was fun going on the ride. But Vandy? After the other game with them? Screw it, I want to blow them out of the arena. I want it to be over 10 minutes into it. In Rupp, it would be the most fun.

  22. Dr. Grant
    4:30 pm February 24, 2012 Permalink

    I just want a win. And Anthony Davis looks like he is impersonating a velociraptor in that picture.

  23. Drew Franklin's Beard
    4:30 pm February 24, 2012 Permalink

    Lets smack Vandy tomorrow, Georgia is irrelevant at this point, and lets make it a game in Florida, lets say win by 8 in the swamp. I just hate Vandy too much to even want them to come close to beating us. I dont know why but Vandy seems to have this undeserved entitlement and self satisfaction about themselves. They havent ever won anything but they act like they have.

  24. Some Guy
    4:30 pm February 24, 2012 Permalink

    #9 completely agree…

    I want everyone to know coming into the game that they will lose and will need perfect execution along with our starting lineup to foul out in the first half to have a chance to win. I want all the pressure on the other team to know they cant beat UK.

  25. V
    4:31 pm February 24, 2012 Permalink

    It’s Kevin Stalling and he did not have very nice things to say about UK, so I would not mind seeing a blowout game. I do want Cats to be tested in a close game but I also want them to develop that killer instinct of putting teams away. You don’t want to let a team hang around because it gives them confidence and who knows their luck might take them over.

  26. Owensboro Cat Fan
    4:33 pm February 24, 2012 Permalink

    Ohio State was rolling last year until the last couple games of the season, struggled in them and backed into the NCAA’s. The rest is history. I dont want this years UK squad to follow in the foot steps of last years Ohio State squad. I know WE beat them but I think they had the better TEAM.

  27. John Wall
    4:34 pm February 24, 2012 Permalink

    Ending the season with several “close” games is humbling and can build confidence, but it also shows vulnerability to the opposition. We want people knowing that Indiana was a fluke and to be prepared to get blown out of the water when they play UK. We don’t want to give anyone any reason to think they can play with us for 40 minutes.

  28. Some Guy
    4:34 pm February 24, 2012 Permalink

    22… Velociraptor priceless. I think he is adding to repertoire to intimidate the opposing team.

  29. Kevin Stallings' Skinhead
    4:36 pm February 24, 2012 Permalink

    Listen to me! Listen to me! This is important. Listen, I don’t want any fooling around with Vandy. Blow out the Common-dores. Their petty treatment of the UK fans at Gameday needs to be emphatically atoned. This is our day. Don’t ruin this for Kentucky fans.

  30. Pitino Hater
    4:37 pm February 24, 2012 Permalink

    The Cats are so good the NCAA has already appointed an investigative committee.
    The Cats are so good Mark Emmert has been having night sweats for months.
    The Cats are so good Rick Pitino is wetting his bed… again.
    The Cats are so good Cardinal fans are already preparing excuses.
    The Cats are so good Pat Forde is already proofing potential accusations.

  31. Sexy Mark Krebs
    4:37 pm February 24, 2012 Permalink

    Can we please quit with all the “ESPN loves duke/unc” stuff Tyler? sounds like a louisville-esque inferiority complex.

  32. WhatSheOrder?FishFilet?
    4:44 pm February 24, 2012 Permalink

    Agree, Tyler. I just want Vandy to play well tomorrow so we can get some tough competition before the tournament. I hope we win by 25, though.

  33. ztrain7276
    4:48 pm February 24, 2012 Permalink

    Loss would be best. I hate to end the home streak, but I think it would light a fire under this team. Not that we need one, but I would sleep easier with one more loss either to Vandy or at Florida.

  34. MustacheMan
    4:49 pm February 24, 2012 Permalink

    don’t care, as long as it is a win.

  35. Troy
    4:49 pm February 24, 2012 Permalink

    I want to win 180-0.

    I f***ing hate Vandy, and I want us to win EVERY game by 50+ points.

  36. Coach Cal
    4:56 pm February 24, 2012 Permalink

    I just hope we get better tonight. That’s all we can really ask for. If they come out and hit thirty threes and beat us, we pat them on the butt and prepare for the next game. I am concerned about our guys and how we play. I am starting three freshman and two sophmores, a fourth in Kyle. I mean, I just want to make sure we keep getting better every game. This is all knew to my team. Every game is new to them because they are so young. So yea, let’s just work on getting better and if we win we win. If not, we get ready for the next game.

  37. A1FAN
    5:01 pm February 24, 2012 Permalink

    I can’t imagine anybody ever wanting a close game against anybody. A blowout every time is what I demand.

  38. notplayingthisgame
    5:01 pm February 24, 2012 Permalink

    WTF….Can’t believe some of you are HOPING for a loss….AT RUPP… a team we should and have beat!?! That’s just crazy to me and proves nothing and might even mess with the guys’ confidence. Run ’em over, get a big lead, sit Anthony and practice playing without him. Good grief, please don’t be wishing for a loss at home!

    I personally predict a one-loss season. Go Cats.

  39. REAL BLY
    5:11 pm February 24, 2012 Permalink

    LISTEN TO ME!!! LISTEN TO ME!! ( fart )

    UK by 15!!!!

  40. StuckInTN
    5:14 pm February 24, 2012 Permalink

    Personally I want to see 13 consecutive, exponentially increasing blowouts starting with Vandy on Saturday. But I’ll be glad to settle for the 13 consecutive wins, no matter how they come.

  41. 1FAN
    5:31 pm February 24, 2012 Permalink

    What channel is the game on?

  42. ajh
    5:35 pm February 24, 2012 Permalink

    At home id prefer a blowout. On the road or a neutral site id prefer a close win for the cats

  43. Dave in Kabul
    5:37 pm February 24, 2012 Permalink

    Florida will be somewhat of a challenge in Gainesville in early March. I don’t think Florida will make it past the 2nd day in the SECT. They’ve too many weaknesses.

    That said, they’ll be tough at home. I still think UK pulls out the win. They have no Bigs to put against UK.

    But UF will be the toughest of the 3 remaining games in the regular conference season.

  44. Dave in Kabul
    5:38 pm February 24, 2012 Permalink

    If Cal wants to challenge them, he could just pull AD after ten minutes and sit him for the final 10 of the first and maybe the first ten of the 2nd half.

  45. @bigbluesean
    5:40 pm February 24, 2012 Permalink

    I want to blow out our next 12 opponents!!!

  46. Marcus L. Owens
    6:08 pm February 24, 2012 Permalink

    Sweet 16 game versus Wichita State, and AD picks up two fouls in the first 10 minutes of the game? Then Wichita State would get beat by 40 you aren’t smart to think that Davis on the bench would stop UK from murdering a Mid Major like Wichita State.

  47. xXx_WOLFGANG_xXx
    6:17 pm February 24, 2012 Permalink

    I want them to play a full 40 minutes like they have been playing in the last 5-6 minutes of games. You think that would be a blowout or a close game?

  48. CommonSense
    6:25 pm February 24, 2012 Permalink

    What’s funny to me is that if AD does get two quick fouls, everyone will then be worried about that. “OH MY GOD, DAVIS FOULS TOO MUCH! AHHHH!” I find comfort in the fact that he doesn’t foul. I would rather we get a 40-point lead, and see our walk-ons ball with Vandy. This is so I don’t have to worry about MKG breaking his face when he’s trying so hard or Teague to getting punched in the face again. That’s all we have to worry about in these last three games, imo. Well that, and where we’re gonna fit the 2012 Regular Season SEC Championship on the wall in Memorial.

  49. xXx_WOLFGANG_xXx
    6:27 pm February 24, 2012 Permalink

    Also, I will never understand wanting a close game. For one it makes other teams (future opponents) feel not so intimidated. If Kentucky plays to full potential, they would be destroying everybody. Think about the difference between Mike Tyson before and after his first loss. Big difference.

  50. Rixter
    6:30 pm February 24, 2012 Permalink

    Yeah, I want the Cats to struggle, not play well, mess with their confidence, maybe even lose at the buzzer, that’s exactly what they need.


  51. RaylenGivens
    7:39 pm February 24, 2012 Permalink

    I want a close game without that dreaded feeling that they may not pull it out.

  52. Mudcreekmark
    7:48 pm February 24, 2012 Permalink

    Here’s what I want, I want to see intensity on defense one through five. I don’t want to see Teague just follow 5 feet behind his man assuming that he’s not going to get the ball thrown to him for a layup.I don’t want to see Jenkins man sluffing off him to help Davis guard someone.For God’s sake, if Davis cannot stop him, your little jump down and act like you are going to double team him, sure isn’t going to stop him from scoring.I want to see denial defense on the interior like Jones played against Miss.State, for the whole game not just the last 5 minutes when we are about to get beat. I want hedging against screens for Tayor and Jenkins and I want to see fighting to get over that screen and not try going around it. Those are a few things I’d like to see. If we see those things then it will not be a close game.

  53. Kentuckyjeff
    7:59 pm February 24, 2012 Permalink

    Blowout here just to let everyone know that no one in the SEC can stay with them. They’ve already given a beatdown to Florida so it’s Vandys turn. They will get a close game or 2 with Florida on the road and in the SEC tourney against someone although it wouldn’t shock me if they just breezed through it. As for the Vandy game Cats by 20 . Leave no doubt !

  54. 8'sgonnabegreat!
    10:11 pm February 24, 2012 Permalink

    Vandy by 6

  55. UK Above All
    1:23 am February 25, 2012 Permalink

    UK played Auburn January 11th, MM, not Vandy.