This Friday night, Kentucky begins a stretch of games which includes Texas, UCLA, North Carolina and Louisville. A stretch that I believe will tell you what the long-term outlook for this team will be. If by some chance Kentucky gets through these next few weeks without a loss, then I don't really see them losing a game in the regular season. The SEC is once again down this year and Florida isn't as good as everyone had hoped they would be in the pre-season. So, saying Kentucky could run the table in conference play is something that very well could happen. But, they have to get through the four teams that I mentioned above and that won't be an easy task.
UCLA and North Carolina will present the usual problems as they always do. They always have great athletes and are always well coached, so those two games won't be an easy out. Then there is Louisville. When it comes to playing the dirty birds to the west, you can take rankings and records and throw them right out the window. None of that stuff matters when these two teams meet on the hardwood. Despite what the talking heads on ESPN say, this Kentucky/Louisville match-up is the greatest rivalry in college basketball hands down. The only reason Duke/Carolina is mentioned as the best rivalry is because ESPN has been on their jocks for so long, that's all the country sees and knows. If you put Cats/Cards on ESPN in place of the other two, things would be different.
But, before we can even begin to talk about any of these other games coming up, we first have to deal with the Long Horns of Texas. Now, normally, I would give a rundown of the schools history, but since everyone knows who Texas is, there's really no need for that. So instead, lets get right into some stats you may need to know for tomorrow night...
Texas comes into tomorrow nights game with a 7-0 record. The only ranked team that they have played so far this season was UCONN which they beat on a last second shot to set the final score at 54-55. The Longhorns have one opponent in common with Kentucky so far this season and that would be, UT-Arlington. Texas had some trouble putting Arlington away and could only manage to win the game by ten. Just for comparison, Kentucky dominated the very same UT-Arlington team by 48.
Here's a look at Texas' roster and what they will throw Kentucky's way on the court.
As you can see, Texas will really be the first team this season who have somewhat similar size as the Cats down low. Also, they are extremely long and athletic, something Kentucky hasn't seen much of in any of the games that they have played thus far. It will be interesting to see how the Cats will respond to a team that has similar size and athleticism. However, the one thing that Texas does not have is the amount of bodies that Kentucky has that they can put on the floor, which in the end I think will be the deciding factor in this game. You have seen it in just about every single game so far, Kentucky just runs teams to death because of their depth. That's something other teams just can't overcome and something that is demoralizing for opponents.
We will find out tomorrow night at 7pm if Texas has what it takes to beat the Cats or if Kentucky can turn in a similar performance like the one they had against Kansas and dominate another top 10 (Texas is ranked #6 in the AP poll and #7 in the coaches poll) team.