Lexington: As the final horn sounded on another Kentucky loss to arch-rival Tennessee, the Big Blue Nation and John Calipari’s young Wildcats were left speechless yet again. Tennessee had not swept the Wildcats in the regular season since the 1999 season before tonight and that all changed Tuesday night as the Volunteers went into Rupp Arena and stunned the Wildcats 61-59 and that loss knocked the Wildcats out of SEC regular-season title hopes. The Wildcats now face a do or die situation with nine games left to play in the regular season and with those nine games comes difficult road games at Texas A&M, Arkansas, Florida, and Auburn. The Wildcats problems have been evident all season long with Tuesday nights loss one might ask, Is this the peak of the problems? History has shown that Calipari has gotten his teams to turn the table and play as a unit, however, this Kentucky team is different. They have the potential of being great as seen in two huge wins over Louisville (29) and a road win at West Virginia (7) however the Wildcats seem to lack the refuse to lose mantra that is known of a normal John Calipari team. The Wildcats must finish SEC play with a split 4-4 record to avoid missing the NCAA tournament and going to play in the dreaded NIT. Kentucky will start that journey to March with a must-win game in College Station as the Wildcats will travel to face Texas A&M, Reed arena will be rocking and it will be very interesting to see how the Wildcats will answer.
John Calipari faces his toughest test to date with this team and Big Blue Nation will have no choice but to be patient with this team as they try to figure this thing out. The Wildcats will need to win four out of the next five to avoid the dreaded bubble and quite possibly the NIT and for a program like Kentucky, the NIT should not be an option. The Big Blue Nation is growing impatient with the team if the Wildcats want to salvage this season they must win at Texas A&M and show a fight that they are capable of showing. The Wildcats must find that dog and channel it to become the Kentucky team that so many people are expecting.
Big Blue Nation stay calm and try to keep patience, with only three projected lottery picks in the NBA mock draft many of these players should be back for next year. If these players do decide to come back and work their draft stocks Kentucky will have a very special team next year with a top-five recruiting coming in. However, if these players advised leaving Kentucky will continue to struggle until changes are made in the way that players and the program as a whole are changed. As John Calipari says “ Trust The Process” Kentucky fans must prove why they are the best fanbase in all of college basketball. That means you lap sitters at Rupp get up and cheer on this team or sell your tickets to people who will, Coach Cal and the team find a leader and stick with that guy. To the team as a whole play for the guy beside you and fight like a Wildcat for the program that is enriched in traditions so steep you can feel it walking into Rupp.
SEC beat writer