Kentucky basketball went into the conference season with a solid 10-2 record. However, it was unclear exactly how good they were. The Wildcats are extremely talented, just like every other year, but they did lose two games to top 25 teams in UCLA and Louisville. The team is extremely young and you never know how they might perform under the pressure that conference games present.
In the first three SEC games, Kentucky couldn’t have played any better. In the first game, against Ole Miss, the Wildcats got off to a big first half lead and eventually won 99-76. Kentucky shot 50 percent from the field and did anything they wanted on the court. Even though it turned out to be an easy victory, the game was the first one after the Louisville loss and it was on the road in a hostile environment. It was quite impressive for Kentucky to bounce back from the Louisville game and play so well in their first conference game.
The next two games, against Texas A&M and Arkansas, were two more blowout wins for Kentucky. Again, the offense was unstoppable as the Wildcats put up 100 points in the Texas A&M game and 97 against Arkansas. Kentucky made these opponents look much worse than they really are, especially Arkansas. The Razorbacks were 12-2 going into the game and looked ready to give Kentucky a challenge. However, Arkansas just couldn’t keep up with Kentucky just like the two previous SEC opponents.
The most recent game, against Vanderbilt, was the closest out of all the conference games but it proved the most. Kentucky won 87-81 and struggled much more offensively than in the three previous games. Kentucky had a season-low eight assists and only made one three-pointer the entire game. The Wildcats weren’t able to just rely on their offense to win them the game. Instead, Kentucky proved their toughness down the stretch and that they can win a tough game on the road. It was an ugly win, but a vital one for the young Kentucky squad.
Kentucky has also shown that they are a much more well-rounded team than many think. Malik Monk and De’Aaron Fox are the two best players, but other players have been stepping up big time in conference play. Isaiah Briscoe has especially been playing really well averaging 17.5 ppg, 6.0 apg, and 6.5 rpg in the SEC, including a triple-double against Ole Miss. He also shined in the Vanderbilt game, scoring 23 points with sixteen of those points in the second half. Along with Briscoe, Adebayo has been shooting 65% in conference play and has shown constant growth.
Looking ahead, Kentucky faces Auburn this Saturday at home as the Wildcats look to go 5-0 in the SEC. The Tigers do have an 11-5 record, but it should be a fairly easy win for Kentucky. Auburn is too young and inexperienced, with their top three scorers all being freshman, to pose much of a threat against Kentucky in Rupp Arena.