The Kentucky Wildcats have entered SEC play with high expectations after failing to live up to their talent during the non-conference portion of their schedule. With three early season losses to the North Carolina Tar Heels, Baylor Bears and Michigan State Spartans, the Wildcats have to show out in conference play or, as crazy as it sounds, Kentucky could miss out on the 2014 NCAA Tournament, again.
With this in mind, the Wildcats struggled against their first SEC opponents, the Mississippi State Bulldogs, and did not lead for a majority of the game. However, they turned it around in the second half to double the scoring of the Bulldogs, won 85-63 and then carried that momentum into their next game against the Vanderbilt Commodores.
Kentucky never felt threatened by the much weaker Commodores. Aaron Harrison continued to have success with a 14-point night, but the Wildcat that stood out the most was Willie Cauley-Stein, who had 15 points and six rebounds. The Wildcats destroyed the Commodores on the boards, out-rebounding Vanderbilt by 13, and eventually won by a score of 71-62.
With the win over Vanderbilt, Kentucky is now 2-0 in conference play with a 12-3 record. They face the extremely talented Arkansas Razorbacks away from Lexington next; the same Razorbacks that almost defeated the No. 10 Florida Gators. Arkansas is one of the best teams in the SEC when at home, so the Wildcats will have to play at their best.
Despite some tough in-conference challenges approaching, expect Kentucky to continue to have success against weaker SEC opposition and cruise into the 2014 NCAA Tournament with ease.