After looking like a team that could be a legitimate dark horse in next week's Southeastern Conference tournament while winning three in a row, Kentucky has gone back to its early form and dropped its past two outings heading into the regular-season finale against South Carolina on Saturday in Lexington, Ky.
Since beating then-No. 19 Tennessee on Feb. 20., the Wildcats (8-15, 7-9 SEC) have lost to Florida at home and Ole Miss on the road and are assured of a losing conference record in regular-season play for the first time since going 8-10 in 1988-89.
"We were getting to where I'm like, all right, we're getting this," coach John Calipari said. "We're going to be good. We're going to be one of those teams and all we have to do is crack this and this, and this is going to be one of those. And then we revert back for two games. Totally revert back."
Against Ole Miss on Tuesday, the Wildcats had four players in double figures, topped by the 16 points of Keion Brooks Jr., but the Rebels dominated the boards by a 42-28 margin in their 70-62 victory. The loss denied the Wildcats an opportunity to play for a spot in the SEC tourney quarterfinals and relegated them to one of Thursday's second-round games.
"Let's hope," Calipari said. "Look, it's not over. It ain't over 'til it's over. We've got one Saturday and we've got a league tournament and, you know, like I said, everybody we play, we can beat or they can beat us. That's where we are with this."
South Carolina also is somewhat of an enigma for its coach. The Gamecocks (6-13, 4-11), who earlier won at Florida, followed up their 91-70 win at Georgia last weekend with a 101-73 loss at home to No. 12 Arkansas on Tuesday night.
"It's just one of them years," coach Frank Martin said. "One of them years. We got good parts and when the parts play well together we represent our team the right way.
"But obviously more times than not we have not connected. We've got a lot of guys who are playing for 'me' and not 'we' and that's unfortunate."
--Field Level Media