As Kentucky Takes Aim at History, Wildcats Have Everyone’s Attention

Posted by Bennet Hayes on March 9th, 2015

It’s not that Kentucky’s perfect regular season was never in doubt, because it often was. It took three overtime periods to dispatch the Wildcats’ first two SEC opponents (Mississippi and Texas A&M). LSU was a Keith Hornsby three away from ending the perfect season (ask Arkansas how that can turn out). And just earlier this week, Georgia had the ‘Cats on the ropes, leading by nine points in Athens with under 10 minutes to play. Kentucky was tested time and time again this season, yet the Wildcats found a way to outscore their opponents 31 times without fail. Fill in your own superlative here, because it’s been a truly historic run: No power conference team has completed a perfect regular season since Indiana did the trick on its way to a national title in 1976.

Kentucky's History-Making Season Continued Saturday. Up Next: The SEC Tournament. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Kentucky’s History-Making Season Continued Saturday. Up Next: The SEC Tournament. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Bids at perfection in college basketball – and in all sports, for that matter — are so often accompanied by a burdensome tension. As the wins pile up, the looming specter of history can turn the games into an exercise in survival. Kentucky has somehow avoided this transformation. No matter how sturdy the challenger or dire the circumstances, the Wildcats have steadfastly maintained control of their season. John Calipari has cultivated a respect for the process rarely found among groups of 18- to 20-year olds. Accordingly, Kentucky has yet to flinch in the face of a challenge — his team has never lost trust in either its coach or the plan. Lately, amid the discussion of Kentucky’s postseason chances, a tired cliché has been making the rounds. Some pundits have said, “the only team that can beat Kentucky is Kentucky.” If missing jump shots is somehow beating yourself, then sure, Kentucky might end up “beating itself.” But anyone familiar with the team’s entire of body of work within this 31-0 regular season will be quick to tell you that, more than anything else, these young Wildcats have always shown up. Expecting a deviation from that standard is silly, particularly when you consider the considerable motivational talents of Calipari.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Where 2012-13 Happens: Reason #30 We Love College Basketball

Posted by rtmsf on October 8th, 2012

And away we go, headfirst into another season heralded by our 2012-13 edition of Thirty Reasons We Love College Basketball, our annual compendium of YouTube clips from the previous season 100% guaranteed to make you wish games were starting tonight. We’ve captured here what we believe were the most compelling moments from last season, some of which will bring back the goosebumps and others of which will leave you shaking your head. Enjoy!

#30 – Where Perfection Upended Happens

We also encourage you to re-visit the entire archive of this feature from the 2008-092009-10, 2010-11, and 2011-12 seasons.

Share this story

Morning Five: 01.26.11 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on January 26th, 2011

  1. This idea has been batted around for some time now, but it looks like it’s going to come to fruition.  North Carolina and Michigan State are finalizing a deal to play each other next Veteran’s Day (November 11) on an aircraft carrier in San Diego Harbor.  At first, we wondered why an eastern team and a midwestern team would travel so far to play when they have perfectly good aircraft carriers in their half of the country (Norfolk, Virginia, for example).  And then we realized that the game will occur in November, and well, the game will be outside.  San Diego’s rather predictable weather makes for a safer bet, and a deal should be announced soon for what will make for a rather interesting gimmick game.  Let’s just hope that they properly adjust for the wind coming in off the water.
  2. In advance of tonight’s blockbuster game in Provo, Luke Winn breaks down Jimmer Fredette’s four worst performances of the season for some clues that San Diego State may use to try to contain him.  It was interesting to hear South Florida’s Stan Heath discussing how his team defended both UConn’s Kemba Walker and Fredette, ultimately concluding that Fredette was the tougher cover because “his shooting range is a little more extended [and] while Kemba is quicker and more explosive, Fredette’s changes-of-speed, plus his hops and step-back moves, make him better. And when he elevates to shoot, he really gets up in the air.”  Great stuff.
  3. This commentary by the Austin American-Statesman’s Kirk Bohls discusses the gargantuan difference in team chemistry between last year’s Texas team and this year’s edition.  It’s clear that even the locals around Austin are sensing a little something special about the group that Rick Barnes has at his disposal this time around.  For our money, we’d agree; nobody in the country has more upside than this team.  And if Jordan Hamilton can get his Glen Rice on in March, don’t be shocked to see UT playing in Houston in April.
  4. Conference realignment ain’t over.  The Mountain West Conference is meeting in Las Vegas this week and is prepared to offer current WAC school Utah State membership to replace the losses of Salt Lake City-area schools Utah (Pac-12) and BYU (independent + WCC).  Last year USU turned down the MWC when it appeared that BYU was planning on leaving the conference for the WAC, causing the league to enact an end-around and effectively blow up the WAC by poaching several of its schools.
  5. With Ohio State’s win over Purdue last night and SDSU on the chopping block tonight at BYU, the talk of unbeaten regular seasons is ramping up.  We’re still a long way from serious consideration of that achievement by one of the final two unbeatens, but Mike DeCourcy harkened back to the 27-0 2003-04 St. Joseph’s team in discussing how the pressure builds with each passing game.  It certainly makes things more interesting for us journo-bloggers out there, eh?
Share this story