There are some things that coaches just don't know.
Most don't like to admit that, especially when it comes to discussing their own team, but Kentucky's Matthew Mitchell knows what he doesn't know.
"We have a lot of basketball left, but this team is hard to figure out in how you can have that variance in effort in such a short amount of time," he said.
He pointed to the stretch of games recently where the No. 19 Cats put in a terrific performance against Auburn, then a strong effort in losing to Tennessee, then followed those up by giving away a game at South Carolina.
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"It's difficult to still know exactly what's going on with the team," Mitchell said before the Georgia game, where UK had its worst Southeastern Conference defeat on Thursday. "We don't have that one player that I can sort of measure the team by."
Last year that one player was Amber Smith, who is sitting out this season with a knee injury.
This season there's no barometer player. Couple that with the team having six freshmen who play with typical freshmen inconsistencies and Mitchell is left scratching his head.
But as the team heads to Vanderbilt — a place it hasn't won in 25 years against a team that sits ahead of UK in the SEC standings — Mitchell is trying not to let the team get too low despite the fact that it's lost three of its last four.
"I think it's very important right now to have some perspective," Mitchell said on Friday. "The sky is not falling. ... We are in fourth place with a chance to finish higher."
Kentucky needs to find a way to navigate its emotional highs and lows with a conference tournament bye still on the line. South Carolina, Louisiana State and Auburn all trail UK by just a game for the fourth seed.
What UK needs is an offensive infusion, specifically some consistency from role players to back up usual double-digit scorers like senior Victoria Dunlap and sophomore A'dia Mathies.
"I'm always curious as to who's going to be in those secondary roles," Mitchell said.
One of the underclassmen not named Mathies might have two or three good games, but follow that up with two bad games.
"It's going to be our supporting cast that's going to tilt this in the right direction," Mitchell said. "It's great if we can just get two or three in a game who are playing well, but on the negative side, it's hard to know who that's going to be."
Mathies believes the consistency will come.
"A lot of people have the capability to score points," she said. "Just knowing that there are people who are capable makes it a little bit easier. ... We'll figure it out."
Little time remains with just three games left in the regular season, including this rough one against the Commodores, who have won five of their six games since losing at UK on Jan. 23.
Mitchell admitted that Kentucky may be dealing with its share of battle fatigue.
It's often taboo to admit, but he said playing the Duke game on Jan. 4, thus forgoing their bye in conference play, may have left his Cats a little less sharp.
"It is definitely possible that right now we are a little down and were a little mentally and emotionally fatigued," he said on Friday. But "they're not going to cancel these last three games for us. We've got to work our way through it."
Mathies OK to play
X-rays came back negative on the injured wrist of Mathies, and she has been cleared to play against Vanderbilt, UK spokeswoman Susan Lax said.
Mathies was hurt when she landed on the wrist after a collision late in the Georgia game.