UK men's basketball team still has plenty to play for

jtipton@herald-leader.comMarch 4, 2013 

The Kentucky men's basketball coaching staff, from left, assistant John Robic, outgoing assistant Orlando Antigua, head coach John Calipari and assistant Kenny Payne, was rewarded for the team's post-season success.


  • Kentucky at Georgia

    When: 7 p.m. Thursday

    TV: ESPN

The loss at Arkansas on Saturday may have dimmed Kentucky's chances for a NCAA Tournament bid. But the light still can be seen.

Assistant John Robic, who substituted for John Calipari on the Southeastern Conference coaches teleconference, made that point on Monday.

Noting a strong finish to the regular season as a "big factor" with the Selection Committee, Robic said, "There are still opportunities out there for our team ...

"Everything was in front of us (and) still in front of us. And that starts with the Georgia game on Thursday."

Kentucky, 20-9 overall and 11-5 in the SEC, finishes the regular season with a game at Georgia on Thursday night before a quick turnaround for Saturday afternoon's Senior Day finale against Florida.

The Cats go into the final week off a dispiriting 73-60 loss at Arkansas.

When asked about the UK mood, Robic said, "The players are disappointed in how we played at Arkansas. I think every player in the country is disappointed when they don't perform well ....

"We've got to right the ship because they've got a lot to play for right now. Our guys know that and they'll be focused on that."

Robic put the loss in perspective by noting that Arkansas has won all but one home game this season. He added that Kentucky had won four SEC road games.

"I think there's still a lot of teams still being evaluated," he said. "... I think it'll come down to the remaining games on our schedule. I know the committee takes a lot of things into (consideration) when they make decisions. A lot of teams out there have more losses than we do at this point in time."

'Post-season year'

Georgia Coach Mark Fox endorsed Kentucky's status for post-season play. He said Kentucky was having "a post-season kind of year."

When asked to elaborate, Fox noted UK's status as defending national champions and the "terrific job" done by Calipari in fashioning a new team with largely freshmen.

"Kentucky still has a very good basketball team," Fox said, "a team that has won 20 games and is in second place in the league. So there's a lot of plusses there that still exist. So that's why I say that."

Bid/seed talk

Ole Miss Coach Andy Kennedy acknowledged that a loss at Mississippi State last weekend left his Rebels with much to do to secure an NCAA Tournament bid.

"We know we'll have to go to Nashville and get some work done," Kennedy said. "We've got to win games regardless of what happens to us in the next two regular-season games (against Alabama and at LSU)."

Control destiny

When asked about gaining the best possible seed at next week's SEC Tournament, Vanderbilt Coach Kevin Stallings quipped, "We can only try to control how we play. Heck, we don't even do that very well."

Ugly stat

Auburn has lost 13 of its last 14 games, the program's worst stretch since 1947.

Coach Tony Barbee lamented the Tigers' lack of confidence on offense.

No Auburn player has scored double-digit points in the last four games. Frankie Sullivan, the leading scorer by average, hasn't scored the most points in a game since getting 12 at Missouri on Feb. 2.

MSU breaks streak

Mississippi State broke a 13-game losing streak by beating Ole Miss Saturday.

Coach Rick Ray chuckled at the notion of a motivation speech spurring the Bulldogs against their rival. He said he had no expectations that the losing streak would end against the team's in-state rival.

"If anybody can figure out the psychological makeup of a team of 18 to 22 year olds, I'll get out of the coaching business," he said. "And I'll go around and be a consultant."


Missouri's home record the last five seasons is 83-4. Kentucky's home record in that same span is 78-8.


Kentucky at Georgia

When: 7 p.m.


Jerry Tipton: (859) 231-3227. Email: Twitter: @JerryTipton. Blog:

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