Billy Donovan thinks there is one overlooked reason as to why Kentucky has played so well in Southeastern Conference play going into his team's game against the Wildcats Sunday. Donovan cited the big-game experience that Chuck Hayes, Patrick Sparks and Kelenna Azubuike have. He noted the improvement of talented freshmen Rajon Rondo, Randolph Morris and Ramel Bradley. But he also warned not to overlook the play of UK's other players.
"Kentucky has guys in between (the freshmen and the experienced players) who
have performed well," Donovan said Thursday during the SEC coaches
teleconference. "The freshmen class got a lot of publicity and the older guys
have won a lot. But it is the combination of leadership, the freshmen getting
better and the sophomores and juniors providing reliable play that has made
Donovan hopes Sunday's game against No. 3 Kentucky will help his team, which
should already be assured of a NCAA Tournament berth.
"Any time you play in a big game, it should help your kids," Donovan said. "I
have often said about Kentucky that we are fortunate to have a Kentucky team
in our league because of the tradition and excellence of playing against the
best. That's what you want to do.
"Kentucky has been so dominant for so long. Our guys want a chance to play
against the best. I know the excellence Kentucky has shown over so many years.
It's great to play against the best, and Kentucky is the best."
However, Donovan also issued a warning that fans, especially those at
Kentucky, should heed when asked about a NCAA Tournament favorite.
"I think we are beyond that point in college basketball," Donovan said. "There
is not a team to beat. You will see a lot of crazy and wacky things happen.
There may be a clear-cut favorite over what teams have done in conference play
based on consistency, but in a one-game neutral site game against good
opponents anything can happen. I don't know anybody so great that they can
overcome everything. Certainly (unbeaten) Illinois has had a magical season,
but once you get into postseason play it really doesn't matter what you have
That means a team like Kentucky could make a deep tournament run, or be
stunned in an early round like the Cats were last year. But that's also why
Sunday's game is so important. If the Cats win, they solidify their claim for
a No. 1 seed in the NCAA or certainly no worse than a high No. 2. That doesn't
guarantee success as UK learned last year, but it sure doesn't hurt, either,
when it comes to those first two tourney games.
VAUGHT: Cats can solidify number one seed
AllWildcats Top Stories
Mingione Excited About New Baseball StadiumNew Kentucky Baseball coach Nick Mingione spoke to the media on Monday regarding the school's announcement that it will build a new stadium for the Wildcats along Alumni Drive.
Cats' Snell, MacGinnis Honored by SECKentucky's Benny Snell and Austin MacGinnis have been honored by the Southeastern Conference this week for their contributions to the Wildcats' 40-38 win over Mississippi State.
Stoops: Mizzou Plays at Breakneck PaceKentucky head coach Mark Stoops said a big challenge for the Wildcats in Saturday's game at Missouri is facing the Tigers' high-tempo offense.
Stoops: UK No Longer A Fragile TeamKentucky head coach Mark Stoops praised his team during Monday's weekly press luncheon for "finally getting over the hump" to win close games like the ones they've had recently…