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UK Basketball: Will Ole Miss Be A Piece Of Cake?

Wenyen Gabriel (Jeff Houchin Photo)

By KEITH PEEL, Contributing Writer

Losing weight is one of the hardest things to do. Most people can relate to the long-term struggle it is to stop doing what you have been doing and start doing something that you generally have never done and don’t really want to do. Namely eating healthy.

A friend of mine had gained some extra pounds over the holidays and had decided to get off that poor eating track, lose those extra pounds and get into a more healthy lifestyle. After a couple of weeks he had lost eight or ten pounds and it was starting to show. He was getting compliments from everyone he knew about how good he looked, how he should keep it up and things like that. He traveled a lot for work and on one trip he ate lunch at his favorite diner in another part of the state. The special that day at the diner was meatloaf and mashed potatoes – his favorite – but he opted for the grilled chicken salad – no dressing – and felt good about it.

After he had eaten his server said “I know you did great ordering the salad but we have a dessert special you can’t pass up. Triple layer double fudge chocolate cake with homemade buttercream frosting.”  At this point my friend had a major dilemma. He could continue doing what he knew was best for his long term goals and not eat the cake or he could revert back to his old ways and enjoy a big piece of double fudge chocolate cake.

The UK Basketball players could be in that same position. The Ole Miss rebels could be that big piece of double fudge chocolate cake. Let me explain. UK has been playing well for the past three games. Playing solid defense. Passing the ball well. Hitting open shots. Hustling for loose balls. Then in comes an Ole Miss team that is struggling.

Ole Miss is 5-11 in the SEC and 1-9 on the road. It’s Kentucky’s last home game of the season and quite possibly the last game in Rupp Arena for some of these players. Plus all the national analysts are mentioning UK as a team to watch down the stretch. They are back into the Top 25 and picked as a four or five-seed in the NCAA Tournament. Compliment after compliment. Distraction after distraction  Everything seems to be coming up roses.

That’s the time to be careful. Like my friend losing weight, the only way the players have achieved better results these last three games is through effort and hard work. Self denial. Extra practice. Toughness in each game when they’re tempted to quit. Togetherness as a team. No selfish plays. Work harder and be tougher than their opponent.

But what happens if their opponent doesn’t bring his “A” game. Do they give into the temptation and drop down to that level or stick with what they have been doing?

So with all that being said – against a decided underdog like Ole Miss  – now is the time to see how dedicated these players are to changing their ways. One would think that seeing the light at the end of the tunnel – a higher seed in the NCAA Tournament- would be incentive enough to finish the season out with effort and toughness but as we all know sometimes distractions come along and get in the way.

It’s very easy to become lackadaisical when progress is being made and everything is going well. That’s the point. They have to be dedicated enough to beat the temptation of reverting back to their old habits and take care of business by beating a team like the Ole Miss Rebels. Or in the case of my friend, turning down that big piece of triple layer double fudge chocolate cake.

5 comments

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  1. This game should be a W, but it will have to be earned.

  2. Great Article! You are so right about this being a trap game. It may be just what we need going into post season play, provided we do not lose the game. This is definitely the most important game of the year.
    I think this team has had enough adversity to avoid reverting to their old habits. Our slump came at the right time and we are improving each game. i am confident that we will have a focused game and provide the momentum need going into the Florida game. I am so looking forward to the Tourney.

  3. What this team needs tonight is a huge win. The Vegas line is 11, and Pomeroy has it at 11. I see it as a 14 point game. Any outcome in single digits is a step back for this team.

    A win by 25 or more is what this team needs to accomplish tonight, and if it does, the surge is continuing, a surge this team needs to permanently elevate its game to true post season competitiveness.

  4. This has been one of the oddest seasons that I can remember. This team has been a rollercoaster ride all season, but the last three games have been the best ball that they have played all year. Maybe they have come together as a team, and this is what we get the rest of the year. If so, the rest of the season is going to be fun. One thing that has made a difference is that the team has learned to play with Vanderbilt. As his game has improved, so has the team.

    1. Completely agree with this post by TrueBlueJohn, with only one caveat. The up and down pattern of play is not that uncommon or limited to this year’s Cats. What has been different this year through the first 21 games has been the average level of play being lower than usual for Calipari teams.

      I believe this team’s light started coming on in game 22. The 2012 Champions started their surge in game 21 that carried them to the trophy.

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