Tumultuous season ends with loss at Florida

By: Steve Moss
By: Steve Moss

Losers of four in-a-row. Five of their last six. Eight of their last 11. Big Blue fans will tell you, by Kentucky's standards, those numbers are staggering.

Losers of four in-a-row.  Five of their last six.  Eight of their last 11. 

Big Blue fans will tell you, by Kentucky's standards, those numbers are staggering.

Throw in six home losses (only the second time since 1927) and one could make the case that it's been a disastrous season.

After Saturday's loss at Florida, the Wildcats finish the regular season 19-12 (8-8), their worst conference showing since the 1988-89 season, when Eddie Sutton's Cats went 8-10 in league play.  That conicided with UK's last losing season.

Some have said this two-year Billy Gillispie era is the worst since UK was saddled with probation.  For the first time in 17 years, UK is on the verge of not making the NCAA Tournament, which would end the third-longest streak in the country (Arizona 24, Kansas 19). 

By all accounts, the loss to the Gators means the Cats will have to make it to the championship game in the SEC Tournament to have a chance at making the Big Dance.  Of course, winning the conference tournament championship takes the selection committee out of the equation. 

But I agree with my media colleague, John Clay, who thinks the Cats have regressed.  Like many others, I see the same thing -- this group LOOKS like it's playing hard, but careless mistakes and poor shooting continue to plague the Cats, even more so over the last month of the season.  The Wildcats opened the year with a season-high 25 turnovers and finish the regular season with 23 against Florida.

Both were UK losses.

Addtionally, these Cats appear to play with a lack of confidence in each other and with their coach.  That's disappointing.


Next Up: NIT?

UK big man Patrick Patterson is adamant: he wants no part of the National Invitational Tournament.  But according to ESPN.com, the school already has told tournament organizers it will play in the NIT, should the Cats fail to secure an NCAA bid. 

UK athletics director Mitch Barnhart tells ESPN that he doesn't want the school perceived to be arrogant, so reluctantly, the Cats would play in the nation's oldest tournament.

Incidentally, the Cats likely would host an NIT game at Memorial Coliseum.  The Boys Sweet 16 will occupy Rupp Arena that week.  Fans have clamored for a men's basketball game at the Coliseum for years.  While they'll get their wish, I'm not sure the faithful wanted it to happen this way.

UK was set to host an NIT game last year, in Memorial Coliseum, but the Wildcats were able to get an invitation to the NCAA Tournament, despite their 18-12 record.  UK lost in the opening round to Marquette.

 Those are the highlights... Stay tuned.

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