We are basically one-third of the way through the SEC basketball regular season, in the later stages of January for college basketball picks and currently Kentucky would not be a Top 4 seed in conference tourney. (Say What!)
Facebook and Twitter never mentioned anything about hell freezing over and if it did, I did not get any updates on my new Periscope account. What the heck is goin’ on? Well, I checked out the standings and its true, the Wildcats are 3-2 (2-3 ATS) in SEC play, but fortunately have not heard about any deaths reported in Big Blue Nation of people not being able to cope with present “critical” dilemma.
It does not get any easier tonight at Arkansas on ESPN at 7:00 EST, before over 19,000 at Bud Walton Arena.
Kentucky is 13-4 and while it seems like the sky is falling in the Commonwealth, it is not. John Calipari still has very good players who do not have the mental capacity at this time to dominate in all facets of the game. Chances are, there a few good NBA players on this Wildcats squad, but they will have to be developed, which is seen by the fact they are 6-11 ATS and their margin of victory is only +9.8 points, far below Calipari standards at Kentucky.
An inkling about the lack of maturity and possible fragile psyche of this team is you have not heard Coach Cal really praise or criticize this group, which is unusual for him. There is plenty to like about leading scorer Jamal Murray (17.8 points per game) and Isaiah Briscoe (10.7). Point guard Tyler Ulis needs to be more of a facilitator and less a shot-taker, converting on just 39.1 percent from the field and miserable 28% from behind the arc. Kentucky is not receiving quality efforts nightly either from main frontcourt players like Alex Poythress, Marcus Lee and Skal Labissiere.
The Razorbacks are only 9-8 on the season (8-5 ATS), having to learn out how to play without departed stars Michael Qualls and Bobby Portis. Nevertheless, we are starting to see signs of this team turn around and while they probably will not win a conference title, they will be a factor.
Offensively, Arkansas is doing an awful lot right, leading the SEC in points per game (83.8), 3-point percentage (44.7, which is 3rd nationally) and turnover margin (plus-3.6). With the trio of Anthlon Bell (17.1 PPG), Moses Kingsley (16.9) and Dusty Hannahs (16.0), Arkansas is one of five teams in the country with three players averaging 15 or more points per game.