TAYLOR'S THOUGHTS: Recover or take cover

The ice is as thin as a small coating that covered the region early Wednesday morning. Ironically, the messy stuff that fell out of the sky and forced numerous cancellations on Wednesday came just hours after Kentucky's loss at Tennessee in Knoxville.

Once considered a lock for the No. 2 spot in the SEC East, the Wildcats are in the midst of a make-or-break portion of the schedule that will be determine where the Cats will be on Selection Sunday. It also could lead to double-digit losses for the second straight season or lead to a new beginning and momentum in the postseason.

Anything's possible, but the team's upcoming schedule isn't the same one that was penciled on the calendar back in November and late December. No cupcakes when you play at Alabama, Vanderbilt and Florida. The same can be said for Georgia and LSU, the last two teams on Kentucky's home slate.

Two straight comebacks during the last two games haven't meant nothing other than just another number added to the loss column. Despite losing the last two games by a combined margin of seven points, coming close doesn't mean anything this late in the season.

If anything, those lessons should have been learned two months ago.

Sure Florida is the top-ranked team in the country and the defending national champion, but by playing at home, Kentucky should have been able to take advantage of a sluggish performance by the Gators. The Wildcats didn't lose any ground in the polls, but are certain to fall out of the Top 25 unless the team can recover and produce a monstrous blowout at Alabama on Saturday.

Even with that scenario, voters will be hard-pressed to keep Kentucky in the national standings. Falling from the company of the nation's elite can happen.

Look at Duke. The cream of the crop in the Atlantic Coast Conference is no longer among the elite teams in the nation.

As evidenced in the Blue Devils' case, tradition doesn't matter in the here and now. Duke hasn't been winning games lately and others have noticed. If you've checked the standings lately, take note that Virginia Tech has been making waves in a conference traditionally powered by Duke and North Carolina.

What's interesting is that schools such as Texas A&M, Nevada, Butler, Southern Illinois, Washington State and Air Force have supremacy in the polls over schools such as Kentucky and now Duke.

So far, Kentucky has been able to avoid a complete regular-season fallout, but the season is far from over. The Wildcats have two options during the next three weeks: Recover or take cover.

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