Cats can vault back into national title picture

Ira Combs Tri State Sports Media

February 10, 2014

Confidence is growing, a few new stripes have been earned with the national pollsters, and all of a sudden it’s starting to get very interesting again.

But first thing’s first, Auburn must and should be taken care of Wednesday night, 8 p.m. EST on the SECTV Network WKYT–Lexington or WYMT–Hazard.

If not, the remainder of this column is null and void, as well as the high tide Kentucky basketball has been riding in recent games. A win this Wednesday would put UK setting at 19–5 overall and 9–2 in SEC play heading into this Saturday’s ESPN Game-day showdown with their No. 3 ranked conference rivals, the Florida Gators.

Normally, most college basketball programs celebrate to a large degree when they reach the 20 win threshold mark in any season. But not in Lexington, where the historic Kentucky Wildcats program displays eight NCAA championship banners in it’s state of the art Joe Craft Center practice facility.

However, even at a place that has proclaimed on occasion that “We Are College Basketball,” it’s still pretty special when that 20th win is earned against the nation’s 3rd ranked Florida Gators and done in front of the ESPN national cameras. Especially when said team has been mired in that 2nd level of the top 20 for the past four to six weeks.

But first the mission must be accomplished before the rewards can be reaped and the Cats can pole vault back into the top 10 and once again be considered viable contenders for another NCAA title run.

How can this mission come to fruition?

First and foremost, to beat a team the caliber of the mighty Gators, UK must be clicking on all eight cylinders, nobody can run and hide for an entire game like Willie Cauley–Stein has recently or like Julius Randle has for a half on occasion in recent games. Free throws must be nailed to a 70 percent rate or better, and especially down the second half stretch when all possessions are magnified and it would probably be smart if the Cats could take good high percentage shots deep into the shot clock instead of jacking up 15–18 three’s early in the shot clock as well.

Can this team play that smart and with super intensity in a national lime light setting just 20 or so games into their college career?

We shall see this Saturday. My guess is the Rupp Arena crowd and ESPN cameras will help out with the intensity part but the intelligence and execution—well, it’s got to come from the player’s on the court .

We shall see.

Can Last Year’s Spring Game Attendance Record Be Broken

They say if you live long enough you’ll see it all. Never thought I would see 50,000 plus at a UK football spring game, but I did. Never thought I would see Kentucky football pull off a top 20 recruiting class, but I did. Definitely never thought I would live long enough to see the UK administration throw $165 million toward Wildcat football facility upgrades, but I’m in the process of witnessing that.

Now, the next big question yet to be answered is will I see the same back to back 2–10 UK Wildcat football team pull in enough of Big Blue Nation to break that 50,000 plus spring game attendance record when this spring’s annual Blue–White game takes place in April. My guess is with incoming freshman quarterback Drew Barker being involved and seven other new recruits of which four are of four-star quality there is a good possibility another 50,000 plus a few more will show up for another UK football scrimmage.

Now, did anyone out there ever think they would live long enough to witness that?

You can go online to www.combsbrothersonkysports.com for more coverage of UK basketball and football as well as KHSAA basketball and football .