Even the best of teams can use a little luck.
When No. 1-ranked Kentucky held off Florida 68-61 on Saturday night in Gainesville, the host Gators were without top scorer Michael Frazier for most of the second half because of a sprained ankle.
That's not the first time a UK opponent has been without a key contributor for part or all of its tough-enough-already matchup with the Cats.
When Texas lost to Kentucky 63-51 in Rupp Arena on Dec. 5, the Longhorns were without leading scorer and point guard Isaiah Taylor.
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When Ole Miss lost to Kentucky in double overtime on Jan. 6, the Rebels lost leading scorer Stefan Moody to cramps less than a minute into the extra period. Moody, who had scored 25 points, didn't return and UK escaped with the win.
On Jan. 10, Kentucky traveled to Texas A&M, which was without its leading scorer, Jalen Jones, sidelined by an ankle injury. Despite Jones' absence, the Cats needed double overtime to beat the Aggies 70-64. Jones returned the next week and A&M ran off six straight victories.
When Alabama came to Rupp Arena on Jan. 31, the Crimson Tide was without high-scoring guard Ricky Tarrant. The transfer from Tulane had scored 21 points at Arkansas before injuring his ankle against Auburn. Kentucky rolled the Tide 70-55.
Then came Saturday where Frazier hit two of his three three-point attempts and scored 10 points in the first half as the Gators led 30-28 at the break.
With Frazier ineffective and then on the bench, Florida couldn't keep up in the second half, especially against a Kentucky team locked in at the free throw line. The Cats made 21 of 22 free throws.
This isn't to say Kentucky would have lost any of those games even if the foe was at full strength. Kentucky is a better team.
Nor should we forget John Calipari's club has faced personnel losses of its own. Starting forward Alex Poythress tore his ACL on Dec. 12. Trey Lyles has missed the last three games with an undisclosed illness.
"We're a little beat up right now," admitted Calipari after Saturday night's win.
There's not much time for rest and recovery, however. UK travels to LSU on Tuesday for a 7 p.m. ESPN game.
The Tigers are 17-6 overall and 6-4 in SEC play, but have suffered some disappointing conference losses.
Missouri's only SEC win came at LSU's expense. Mississippi State, now 4-6, beat LSU in Starkville. Bruce Pearl and Auburn visited Baton Rouge and upset the Tigers 81-77 last Thursday. It was just Auburn's third SEC win.
LSU is certainly capable of competing with the Cats. The Tigers boast a formidable front line in 6-foot-10 sophomore Jarrell Martin and 6-foot-8 sophomore Jordan Mickey.
Mickey scored 25 points and grabbed 20 rebounds in the loss at Mississippi State. He scored 24 points and grabbed 12 rebounds in the 71-60 win over visiting Alabama on Saturday. He is averaging nearly four blocked shots per game.
In the backcourt, LSU boasts a familiar name in guard Keith Hornsby, son of music artist Bruce Hornsby. Keith led the way with 23 points in LSU's best win of the year, a 75-71 triumph at Ole Miss back on Jan. 14.
After the loss to Auburn, however, Jones shook up his lineup against Alabama, benching point guard Josh Gray. Tim Quarterman and Jalyn Patterson started in a three-guard set along with Hornsby. The combination helped the Tigers snap a two-game losing streak.
And even if opponents haven't always been at full strength when facing the Kentucky, Pete Maravich Assembly Center will be full for Tuesday night's tilt as UK's road games always are.
LSU says Tuesday is the school's first hard sell-out for men's basketball since 2006.