As fair as it might be right now, it still hurts to think that this year’s Kentucky team only merits “contender” status in a mediocre Southeastern Conference. But that’s exactly where the Sporting News has them going into league play in less than a week:
It is strange to see Kentucky already consigned to merely “contending” for the SEC title after the Wildcats entered the year as the nation’s No. 1, but they came by this position honestly. The talent still is there, and the time is there, but they’ll have to prove they can perform as consistently as Florida’s Gators.
The good news is that there is plenty of time between now and our first matchup with Florida, which is February 15th at Rupp. That should give this team plenty of time to learn even more, and develop as a team rather than individual players. Plus, how many free throws can they put up in a month and a half? Gotta think at least like, a hundred, right?
But Florida’s schedule is a bit like Kentucky’s: really tough, with ranked wins at home, and ranked losses away from it. The games between now and then are going to be the difference. If Kentucky keeps improving like they did so clearly during the Louisville game, and if they bring up their free throws to at least 60%, I’m pretty confident they can win both games against the Gators. Then they’ll go from “contender” to… well I don’t know. Something better than that.
But it starts in six days against Mississippi State.