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BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: Tomorrow the Biggest SEC Game in Cal era?

Image result for pressure

You could argue that tomorrow’s game against Florida is one of the biggest regular season conference games in UK modern history.  Because despite the 719 conference championships in UK history, they have rarely played games this late in a season that would have a direct effect on who the conference champion will be.  Since the league expanded in 1992, only 7 times has UK played one of it’s final 3 regular season games against another school in the running for the conference title.

Those results:

1994 (Florida)
Entering Game: Kentucky 11-3, Florida 11-3
Game Result: Kentucky 80, Florida 77 (in Lexington)
Finishing Records: Kentucky 12-4, Florida 12-4
Notes: UK went on to lose regular season finale to South Carolina and Florida won its last game against Tennessee to finish tied in the SEC East standings.  Both teams finished 2 games behind Arkansas for the overall SEC title.

1997 (South Carolina)
Entering Game: South Carolina 14-1, Kentucky 13-2
Game Result: South Carolina 72, Kentucky 66 (in Lexington)
Finishing Records: South Carolina 15-1, Kentucky 13-3
Notes: The stunning senior day loss, in which Rick Pitino was ejected, clinched the overall SEC title for the Gamecocks.  UK would get the last laugh though, winning the SEC Tournament and making the Final Four.  South Carolina was upset as a 2-seed by Coppin State.

1999 (Tennessee)
Entering Game: Tennessee 11-4, Kentucky 11-4
Game Result: Tennessee 68, Kentucky 61 (in Knoxville)
Finishing Records: Tennessee 12-4, Kentucky 11-5
Notes: Auburn won the overall SEC title by 2 games but UT bested UK for the SEC East title.  UK once again won the SEC Tournament and made the Elite 8.  Auburn made the Sweet 16 and Tennessee got beat by 30 in the 2nd round.

2000 (Florida)
Entering Game: Florida 12-3, Kentucky 11-4
Game Result: Kentucky 85, Florida 70 (in Lexington)
Finishing Records: Kentucky 12-4, Florida 12-4 (Tennessee also finished 12-4)
Notes: The regular season finale win got UK a 4-way tie for the overall SEC title.  Florida got the last laugh, making the Final Four.

2001 (Florida)
Entering Game: Kentucky 12-3, Florida 11-4
Game Result: Florida 94, Kentucky 86 (in Gainesville)
Finishing Records: Kentucky 12-4, Florida 12-4
Notes: Kentucky’s chance at an outright SEC title was wasted and they had to share the title with the Gators.

2002 (Florida)
Entering Game: Florida 10-5, Kentucky 9-6
Game Result: Kentucky 70, Florida 67 (in Lexington)
Finishing Records: Kentucky 10-6, Florida 10-6 (Georgia also finished 10-6)
Notes: Cats got payback from the previous year, beating the Gators to share the SEC East title with UF and Georgia.  Alabama won the overall SEC title at 12-4.

2008 (Tennessee)
Entering Game: Tennesse 11-2, Kentucky 10-3
Game Result: Tennessee 63, Kentucky 60 (in Knoxville)
Finishing Records: Tennessee 14-2, Kentucky 12-4
Notes: Billy Gillispie’s first team would have shared the SEC crown had they pulled out this game against the #1 team in the country.  Alas, Chris Lofton and company were too much.  This was the first game without an injured Patrick Patterson that season.

A couple interesting things here.  First is that UK is just 3-4 in these games, costing them a shot at 3 other conference regular season titles.  Secondly though is that none of Calipari’s teams have been involved in these games.  His conference title teams in 2012 and 2015 won the conference by 5 games or more.  The 2010 and 2016 teams won the conference by 2 games or less but didn’t play any of the top contenders in the final 3 games.  The 2011, 2013, and 2014 teams were not in the running for the conference title at the end of the year.  Point being, this should be the conference game with the most on the line in the Calipari era.  And for a team that hasn’t always played great in the big games (UCLA, Kansas, at Florida), it will be interesting to see how they handle this situation.

With Florida’s closing schedule of Arkansas and at Vanderbilt, the conference isn’t totally lost with a loss tomorrow but a win would put the Cats in a great position for at least a share of another title.  The pressure will be on.  Let’s see how the Cats handle it.

Article written by Bryan the Intern

7 Comments for BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: Tomorrow the Biggest SEC Game in Cal era?

  1. truBLU
    8:24 am February 24, 2017 Permalink

    No, dear.

    • Bryan the Intern
      8:29 am February 24, 2017 Permalink

      And a bigger game would have been……….

    • 2Dogs
      9:03 am February 24, 2017 Permalink

      Probably the last 50 times KSR has called a game the biggest game ever.

    • ClutchCargo
      9:34 am February 24, 2017 Permalink

      BTI, I kinda disagree with the premise of the question in your title. While it would be nice to win the conference, the goal from day 1 is to hit the NCAAT with a full head of steam. Conference implications tomorrow are merely coincidental.

  2. Mathlete
    8:34 am February 24, 2017 Permalink

    In truth, as Cal has pointed out, we’re not here to win conference championships. They’re nice and all, but there’s a reason we don’t hang new banners up for them.

  3. WatchutalkinboutWillis
    8:40 am February 24, 2017 Permalink

    NIce post. Also a reminder that 2011, 2013, and 2014 when we were not in the running were all freshmen led teams. This year is as well and we ARE in the running! Things are not in as bad of shape as we have been believing!

    • Mathlete
      8:53 am February 24, 2017 Permalink

      We went to the finals in both 2011 and 2014, so crazy stuff can happen.

      Unlike 2013, which didn’t happen at all. That year doesn’t exist.