The Kentucky Wildcats treated the South Carolina Gamecocks like an unwanted stepchild on Saturday. A kid, mind you, they didn’t particularly want, or like.
In fact, after John Calipari got ejected very early on in the game, viewers could have simply turned their picture-boxes to another channel, as Kentucky went on to topple Frank Martin (King of the Zombies) and crew 89-62.
Winning the game was impressive. Especially while Kentucky hurled around more alley-oops than Saturday night’s NBA Dunk Contest will. However, the more impressive fact is that Wildcats put a ‘beat down’ on a team that was supposed to be their equal in the SEC.
The win honestly highlights how vastly superior Kentucky’s talents are when compared to the rest of the league.
That was never really in doubt. Sure, folks spent a large portion of their free time nitpicking all things Big Blue Nation, but it was never done in a way that suggested its roster wasn’t good. Moreover, it was simply part of the larger idea of the program not being as dominant as it was in years prior. And, well, of course it’s not. Few teams can have runs of success at an elite level every year in a row — especially when you consider just how good (and undefeated) Kentucky was last year until it matched up with Wisconsin in the Final Four.
Really, part of our issue with analyzing Kentucky is due to the fact that the program has set the bar so humorously high. When the Wildcats aren’t winning 30 games in a season, we feel as if there must be something wrong.
Obviously, as we learned Saturday, nothing is wrong in Lexington.
With the win, coupled with LSU beating A&M in the same afternoon, Kentucky will be atop the SEC standings alongside the Tigers. That said, even with Ben Simmons apparently being the greatest thing since sliced-bread and the invention of the toaster-oven, few could argue about which is actually the better overall team.
The win puts Kentucky in the driver’s seat moving forward, too. It truly controls its own destiny.
With only one ranked team left on the Wildcats’ schedule — Texas A&M on the 20th — and the season finishing off against the only competition left that has a real chance at winning the SEC regular season — LSU — only semantics are in the Wildcats’ way from becoming SEC champions yet again.
Those semantics are obviously a bit more than simply navigating the last few games. A&M is a good team, one of the few that have been consistently good in the SEC this season, and Kentucky has to play the Aggies on the road. A loss there is possible, but not if the Wildcats play anywhere near as dominant as they did on Saturday.
As for LSU, the Tigers have remained one of the most mysterious teams in the country this season. Many want to give them a certain benefit of the doubt because they feature a player as good as Simmons, but there’s a reason the Tigers have a slew of bad losses, few great wins, and an overall mediocre record in their wake. It is, you know, because LSU is a decent team — at best.
At Kentucky’s best, though, it is great.
Moreover, the good news for Big Blue Nation is that its greatness has come at the right time, as the Wildcats have averaged over 83 points per game over their last six. That’s up five points from their season average.
Also in that six game span, the Wildcats held opponents to only 67 points per. Granted, some of those games were against abominations like Georgia and Missouri, but despite two losses during that run, it does seem that this team is trending towards playing some of its best basketball of the season.
Really, without making it sound too hyperbolic, it’s a wrap.
The Wildcats are going to win the SEC regular season barring any sort of calamities or hiccups along the way. To be fair, it’s not a mathematical lock, but we’ve already ignored large portions of context, so why start now?
Let’s see if Calipari can make it through his next game, though, or if his new tactic of purposely going bonkers early on in games is a strategy he plans to regularly employ.
That’s the only thing left to see in the SEC.