The Kentucky Wildcats' start to the 2012-13 season has been a far cry from what the team was able to accomplish last season, but the Wildcats' close loss to the Louisville Cardinals proved this team is still dangerous.
John Calipari's squad has begun this season with an 8-4 record and with that, the Wildcats won't be garnering the same respect they did last season. Clearly Kentucky isn't a powerhouse, but an 80-77 loss to the Cardinals showed they can still hang with some of the best teams in the nation.
The Wildcats lost the game to the Cardinals in the first five minutes of the second half when they let Louisville build a 17-point lead after poor defense, turnovers and bad shots became the norm.
But Kentucky showed some fight and didn't let Louisville's lead deter it from making a late run. The Wildcats pulled to within just two points in the final six minutes of the game, but were unable to finish the comeback against the No. 4 team in the nation.
This loss was still a great sign for the Wildcats.
It showed that Calipari's young roster has plenty of fight in it.
Even when things look bleak and nothing is going their way, the Wildcats still have the ability to make a game of it. It's pretty easy to get dejected against a top team, but the Wildcats didn't let that happen against the Cardinals.
On top of that, if only the Wildcats had shot better than 11-for-23 from the charity stripe, they would have actually pulled off the comeback en route to an incredible upset.
While the free-throw problem can be worked on, having the type of guts this team displayed against the Cardinals can't be practiced or coached. It's a quality that a team either has or doesn't, plain and simple.
That quality is also necessary if the Wildcats want to be relevant for the rest of the season. If Kentucky can find its way to the NCAA tournament in 2013, they will be a dangerous draw against some of the toughest teams in the country.
Sure, they are no longer a favorite to be a top team in the nation, but the Wildcats can't be overlooked by any means despite their lackluster start to the season. Don't be surprised if Kentucky goes on to knock off a top-ranked opponent at some point this season as this team has already proven it has the ability to do so.
This close contest against Louisville put the proof in the pudding for Kentucky.