TAYLOR:No time to panic, but time for concern

Now is not the time to panic, but there are some concerns.

Kentucky, which dropped its second consecutive conference game on Wednesday night, must learn from the ordeal in order to recover in time for the final stretch of the regular season.

That stretch includes home games against Tennessee, South Carolina, Florida, LSU and Georgia. Road dates include visits to Arkansas, Tennessee, Alabama, Vanderbilt and Florida. Although the Wildcats already have 15 wins, getting to 20 will be that much harder following the loss to the Bulldogs.

In order to achieve success during the next 10 games, Kentucky must play like it did in the first half against the Bulldogs. The team shot well, avoided silly mistakes and got solid production from the bench.

In the second half, Kentucky basically failed to produce a replay of the first 20 minutes. The end result was what should have been an unnecessary setback.

Several factors led to the team's downfall. We like the idea of Joe Crawford stepping up to the challenge and playing like a seasoned veteran. It can only help when the junior guard is scoring points both around the perimeter and driving to the basket. Crawford finished with a career-high 29 points in the loss to the Bulldogs, but didn't score his 19th point until he latter part of the second half.

Crawford ended up shooting the ball 20 times. That's 14 more shots than center Randolph Morris took the entire contest. No Kentucky player shot the ball more than six times in 45 total minutes. No question, Crawford should be in the equation when it comes to scoring, but Morris should be more involved in the offense. He's one of the best centers in the league and should get the ball more when the game is on the line.

Morris, who was on the floor for 29 minutes, finished with 11 points, but got almost half of those — five — from the free-throw line. Another disappointment was two rebounds against the Bulldogs' not-so-famous front line.

A bigger problem is the team's inability to handle prosperity, whether it be on or off the court. A week ago, Kentucky was back in the Associated Press Top 25, only to fall out by the time the next poll came out. a loss to Vanderbilt at Rupp Arena resulted in the Cats' tumble from the national spotlight.

Kentucky also has a problem holding on to a sizable lead and an inability to put teams away when the opportunity arrives. Such disasters led to an overtime contest in its last outing. Kentucky had momentum during a recent 11-game winning streak, but lost it. The team needs to regain it to avoid a poor finish down the stretch.

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