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Kentucky may find answers in the SEC tournament

March 9 – This basketball season has been an interesting stew for the University of Kentucky. About a month ago, UK spent a little time as a bubble team this winter but managed to escape that rare territory for this program.

Kentucky now goes into the SEC tournament with a chance to end up with a pretty good trip in the NCAA tournament.

While the Wildcats and BBN were once hoping to be a 12-seed and stay out of the First Four at Dayton, they are now considering some potential matchups that could allow Britain to escape for the second weekend of the NCAA tournament.

Great Britain is seeded 5th in the latest ESPN Bracketology projections ahead of the SEC tournament, which kicked off with two games on Wednesday night and kicked off with four more games on Thursday in Nashville, Tennessee.

Kentucky (21-10) is No. 3 in the SEC tournament and will play around 8:30 pm CT on Friday, with No. 6 Vanderbilt being the likely opponent. Vanderbilt was scheduled to play the Georgia-Louisiana State winner Thursday night.

Well, the reality is there won’t be much movement in this week’s conference tournaments, but a solid performance for Britain in the SEC tournament could keep it on that 5-seeded line for the NCAA tournament.

That would be a marked improvement on the 8-9 scenarios at play for Britain as they continued working in February to chase baskets in games with as much effort as they tried to string together wins.

British coach John Calipari has never been a huge fan of the SEC tournament or conference tournaments in general. He was dismissive when Great Britain lost to Tennessee in the SEC semifinals in Tampa last year. UK had a No. 2 in the NCAA tournament so that loss gave UK an extra day off.

At the time, little thought Britain would have just one game left in their 2021/22 season, a stunning loss to No. 15 Saint Peter’s in the opening game of the Round of 64 for the Wildcats.

The story goes on

This severe blow to the psyche of the British program set the stage for the fear this team inspired among its fans, supporters, coaches and players at various times this season.

This SEC tournament could certainly weigh on the Wildcats given their player numbers. Britain will certainly be without Sahvir Wheeler and most likely Cason Wallace, while CJ Fredrick could be available but his action at Nashville will likely be limited. Together with Antonio Reeves, this is the core group of the British backcourt.

But Britain can use this weekend to better adjust to how to play through an exhausted squad with key games ahead. Reeves took what seemed a hopeless situation for that backcourt and turned it into one of the most stirring performances for the Wildcats in several years in their 88-79 win in Arkansas last Saturday.

Reeves got plenty of help from Jacob Toppin, who dropped 21 points and continued the steady game that saw the senior hit double digits for the 13th time in 14 games.

Britain still needs a lot of help from Reeves, Toppin, Oscar Tshiebwe, Chris Livingston and pretty much anyone else available to get on the floor. The UK’s path beyond the SEC could also get a boost.