Kentucky's NCAA Tournament Hopes Fade With Loss to Georgia

By Corey Righter
Mark Zerof
Mark Zerof – USA TODAY Sports

The phrase “must win game” is one of the most over used words in sports. If Kentucky would have played fluidly as a team earlier in the season, they would not need to stress these last few games just to be considered for the tournament. If they were to not make the tourney, it would mark the first time since 2009.

Coming into the game vs. Georgia the Wildcats were already struggling on the road, losing their previous three road contests. With the 72-62 defeat at the hands of the Bulldogs, they have now lost four consecutive road games. At one point in the game the Bulldogs had amounted a 15 point lead.

The top four teams in the SEC will automatically advance to the quarterfinals of the conference tournament. Currently the Cats’ fell out of sole possession of second place and they are now behind #11 ranked Florida,  Missouri, and Ole Miss teams that have most likely already earned a spot in March Madness regardless of their performance in the conference tourney. Kentucky is now the fourth best team in the SEC.

Kentucky has one game left on this disappointing season as they take on Florida, a team that may be their toughest opponent of the season. With just five losses overall on the season the Gators will be favored, but have nothing to lose as they have already clinched the conference.

If Kentucky comes out flat on Saturday against the Gators it is not going to be pretty. Just take a look at the Tennessee game following the Nerlens Noel injury.

The one aspect of Kentucky’s game that has stuck out like a sore thumb is their inability to convert at the free throw line. The Wildcats shot 70/113 overall in their last five games combined, which is an abysmal 62%. John Calipari‘s teams have always been historically bad at the charity stripe. Fortunately, for Kentucky’s sake, Florida is ranked 15th in the nation when it comes to fewest free throw attempts allowed at around 15 per game.

If the Wildcats lose they could miss securing their spot in the quarterfinals, making it more difficult to earn a spot in the big dance later this month.



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