Many have tried. None have succeeded. Beating Kentucky, that is.
On a Southeastern Conference teleconference Monday, coaches did not sound optimistic about beating Kentucky in the league tournament this week in Nashville.
"I keep hearing people say, 'What's it going to take to knock them off?'" Vanderbilt Coach Kevin Stallings said. "I'm not sure that you can play a better game against them than Georgia did. I'm not sure you can play a better game against them than Ole Miss did. I'm not sure you can play a better game against them than Texas A&M did. It doesn't really matter.
"I guess the only thing I can see if somebody could just bang in a bunch of threes against them, but nobody does that. Their defense is so good. Those guys play so well together defensively ... You can sit there and say someone's going to have to hit a bunch of threes, but nobody does. I'm not sure what it will take. Kentucky has one of the best teams in my coaching lifetime in college basketball."
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Georgia led UK by nine points midway through the second half before Kentucky rallied to a 72-64 victory. Georgia Coach Mark Fox did not claim he had a formula for beating UK.
"The thing we obviously tried to do was take their big players away from the basket when we were on offense," he said. "We had minor success in doing that. But you also have to go to the other end and defend their big players at the basket. ... Having to play so well at both ends against such great length for 40 minutes is extremely hard to do and that's one of the reasons that they're undefeated."
Of course, Texas A&M came the closest to beating Kentucky. UK needed double overtime to win 70-64 on Jan. 10.
"I thought they'd get beat in the regular season after we played them," A&M Coach Billy Kennedy said. "But I don't see anybody beating them in our league now. I think it will be very difficult to beat them if they play like they've been playing. They don't beat themselves. You've got to have some help from Kentucky to not play well, to play selfish, to have two or three guys injured."
Kennedy suggested that it will take a perfect storm of UK misforture and opposition good fortune for an upset to occur.
"I think a lot of things have to happen, and then somebody has to have a super, unbelievable game," he said. "Arkansas is capable. I think if we had all our pieces, we'd be capable. And I think Georgia ... I think there are a few teams capable of beating them, but you'd have to have interior depth and size in the post and then you've got to have a lot of things go well."
Kennedy said A&M's leading scorer, Danuel House, is unlikely to play in the SEC Tournament. House missed Saturday's game after suffering what Kennedy called a "severely sprained foot" at Florida last Tuesday.
SEC honors Towns
The SEC named Karl-Anthony Towns its Player of the Week. He became the first UK player to win the award this season. Thus, UK avoided becoming only the second team to win a SEC regular-season title outright while not having someone named Player of the Week at least once.
The other time it happened was to Kentucky in 1987-88. The league began the award in the 1984-85 season.
Towns averaged 16 points, eight rebounds and 3.5 blocks in victories at Georgia and against Florida last week. He tied a career high of 19 points while grabbing seven rebounds at Georgia.
Then in what he termed a "struggle" against Florida. he blocked six shots, while scoring 13 points, grabbing nine rebounds and getting credit for a team-high three assists.