It’s been a weird season for the Kentucky Wildcats basketball program, as expectations have not yet lived up to the product on the court. Since 2017, Kentucky Basketball has not been the program many expect to see when the blue and white take the court. For years, Kentucky had fielded some of the best talents in college basketball, yet scoring the basketball has been a struggle for the program. Sure, blame has the potential to be spread around the program like melted butter. However, Coach Calipari is the Head Coach of the Kentucky Wildcats; and refuses to adapt to the current state of college basketball. According to Matt Jones of Kentucky Sports Radio, Coach Calipari sits alone on an island without valuable relationships with the athletics director, donors, and other coaches in the athletics department. However, the fate of the season could make a drastic change over the next week as the Wildcats prepare to face Alabama on Saturday, South Carolina, at Rupp Arena on Tuesday night, before heading south to take on Tennessee in Knoxville.
Once again, Kentucky has two chances this week to win back the Big Blue Nation and earn a bit of momentum heading into the meat of the schedule. It all starts on Saturday afternoon as the Wildcats head to Coleman Coliseum to take on the 7th-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide.
Kentucky comes into the Alabama game following a thrilling 74-71 home win over the LSU Tigers on Tuesday night. It was a game in that Kentucky showed improvement from the Louisville win but still showed troubling signs of not being able to close out opponents. Watching the game tape of the game, Kentucky had plenty of chances to bury the Tigers on Tuesday night but failed to do so. It was a win, but the Kentucky Standard expects the Wildcats to have the ability to put away opponents, especially when those games take place at Rupp Arena.
Kentucky needs a win on Saturday. There’s no other way to put it. Kentucky is facing a sour backlash from the Big Blue Nation due to a lack of competitive nature seen within the program over the last few years under Head Coach John Calipari. Some have said that the judgment passed down from the Big Blue Nation is unfair to the current squad on the floor, yet, Kentucky isn’t a place for everyone. You don’t get to where Kentucky Basketball is in terms of success without holding the program to an unimaginable standard. A win on Saturday over Alabama will provide a much-needed bump to the Kentucky Basketball program.
There’s still a lot of hope for the Kentucky Basketball season; a win on Saturday and the conversation could return in Lexington, Kentucky, to hopes of winning another SEC Championship. There’s enough talent on the roster for Kentucky to make a run at a National Championship; to do so, Kentucky first must prove they can hang with Championship contenders. A win on Saturday would start that process and provide the Big Blue Nation with a little excitement heading into the showdown with Tennessee next Saturday.
Saturday at Alabama won’t be easy; Kentucky will need big games from Toppin, Wheeler, Oscar, and Wallace. They will also need everyone else to do their job, but a win is possible for this Kentucky Wildcats program. Kentucky must go out on Saturday, throw the first punch and keep Alabama from feeding off Crimson Tide faithful to secure a must-win on Saturday afternoon. Short-term memory will also come into the factor on Saturday. Alabama will come out swinging and try to force Kentucky into places that make the Wildcats uncomfortable. Kentucky has got to figure out how to drown that out and not dwell on the uncontrollable.
Kentucky and Alabama will have a tip time of noon local time, with a national television audience on ESPN.