No one should be surprised that Kentucky hasn’t looked like a national champion every step of the way this season.
It’s tough to play at the same level as a season ago, and the Wildcats have learned that the hard way a few times this year.
Still, in a tough road environment, against a Vanderbilt team that could very well be the best in the Southeastern Conference this year, the Wildcats took a step forward, even if the 60-58 win over the Commodores was a little too close for comfort.
The Wildcats used an all freshmen starting lineup for the second consecutive game and it helped lead to a 35-24 halftime advantage.
But with youth comes inconsistency, and when the Wildcats missed 12 straight shots at one point, the Commodores capitalized and got back into the game.
In the end, it didn’t matter. Kentucky escaped with an important win on the road, thanks in part to the 16 points from Ryan Harrow.
Kentucky, which is 10-4 overall and won its 23rd consecutive conference opener, has put a lot of time in from a practice standpoint lately and it has tried to find its self to become the team it was a year ago.
The Wildcats aren’t going to be the dominant force they were last season when they brought the championship back home to Lexington.
But they do have a chance to get on a roll in conference play and carry that momentum into March.
Will it be good enough to win another national title? Probably not.
But the Wildcats will be tough to deal with come March.
Brian Lester is a featured Big Ten columnist and college basketball writer for Rant Sports. He is a member of the United States Basketball Writers Association.
Follow him on Twitter @BLester1993 or send him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.