VAUGHT: UK's surge no surprise to DeCourcy

Mike DeCourcy of the Sporting News is one of the nation's most respected college basketball writers. Here are his thoughts on Kentucky as the Wildcats prepare for Saturday's game at Georgia.

Question: Are you surprised that Kentucky is playing as well as it is now?

DeCourcy: "I did counsel patience at one point. Billy Gillispie is a terrific basketball coach who has won games at places where that's far more difficult to do than at Kentucky. I couldn't say I'm surprised that he's winning them now."

Question: How good do you think Patrick Patterson is and where should he be mentioned when you are talking about the nation's best freshmen?

DeCourcy: "One of the disappointing things about Kentucky's early struggles is that so few people noticed what a wonderful player Patterson is. I love the energy he brings to the game and the diversity in his talents. He is not as talented as Michael Beasley, Eric Gordon, and a few others because he's not big for his position, but if I were allowed to pick a few of the great freshmen to stock my college team, Patrick would be one of the first I'd select."

Question: Has Ramel Bradley improved this much, or have SEC opponents enabled him to suddenly start playing so well?

DeCourcy: "I'd say he has gained confidence the more he's had the ball in his hands and the more he's grown to understand what his coaches want from him. He's never going to be a great creator at point guard, but he's strong, mentally tough and has a real belief in himself. He'll still have nights where he frustrates you, but because he's got help from Jasper in distributing the ball and more weapons around him, he could have a solid senior year."

Question: Can Kentucky make the NCAA Tournament and what would it take for that to happen if you think it could?

DeCourcy: "As the NCAA likes to say when people talk about expanding the field, everybody has a chance in March. All you have to do is win your conference tournament. Realistically, that's Kentucky's best path into the field. If you want to dream, you could say Kentucky could get there by winning the league regular season with a 12-4 record, something like that, but they've already dropped two games. I guess you can look at their road games and see few that are unwinnable and think it's possible. But it's certainly not likely."

Question: Finally, what is the national perception of Kentucky basketball now?

DeCourcy: "Honestly, the country has moved on. They looked at the train wreck of November and December and now are more worried about the teams that look like they're headed for the NCAAs. Kentucky has to force its way back into the national consciousness. But if they tear through February, people will notice."

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