Like the Southeastern Conference needed any more national coverage.
In a season that has seen not one, but two, SEC basketball teams drawing nationwide attention, Kentucky (16-6, 7-2 SEC) is finally stealing back the spotlight. With a sound 22 point win over South Carolina, coach John Calipari‘s squad has inched one game closer to first place Florida, who fell to Arkansas 80-69.
Calipari’s teams have always been known as a group of future superstars, brought together to play as a team. But by no means does Kentucky represent the SEC, or the other teams in the conference. The SEC is, and will always be, a football-driven conference. Not necessarily in reference to revenue, but because the basketball talent is so far below the standard of other top-notch conferences.
That was all true until the 2012-13 season.
Florida entered this new week ranked No. 2 in the nation, with high hopes of continuing their marvelous conference run all the way into March. Throughout that streak, the Gators had beaten their SEC opponents by a staggering margin of over 26 points. But should any competent conference have a statistic so impressive?
That statistic is the epitome of the weakness of the SEC. Kentucky has won the big game because of their tenacity on defense, precise flow on offense and superior coaching on the sidelines. Not because of their ability to beat up on the “little brother” of college basketball. The Wildcats’ record may not be as impressive as the one in 2011-12, but that can be completely attributed to the absence of a unibrow blocking machine named Anthony Davis.
Kentucky showed quite possibly their most complete conference victory Tuesday night, shooting 61 percent from the field and out rebounding the Gamecocks 42-25. The Wildcats proved that they can also beat up on conference opponents on a nightly basis. The true test will come on Feb. 12, when we will all learn who the supreme squad in the SEC is.
Even with Florida dazzling national voters with their (nearly) flawless conference record, it will be a while before the SEC gains basketball supremacy.Especially when Kentucky wins the conference championship.
Follow John Engel on Twitter: @engelsportsguy