Kentucky Basketball: Biggest Games Remaining on Wildcats' Schedule

Bobby ReaganFeatured ColumnistJanuary 21, 2014

Kentucky Basketball: Biggest Games Remaining on Wildcats' Schedule

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    Kentucky hasn't lived up to preseason expectations just yet in the 2013-14 season. However, with conference play in full swing, the Wildcats have a chance to check off their first task of winning yet another SEC regular-season title.

    While the SEC isn't the highest regarded basketball conference, that isn't to say there won't be challenges along the way. Take, for instance, a road loss to Arkansas last week for Kentucky. 

    This slideshow will take a look at the biggest games remaining on Kentucky's schedule if it wants to win its 47th SEC regular-season crown. 

January 28: at LSU

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    Despite being just 12-5 and 3-2 in the SEC, a trip to Baton Rouge isn't an easy task for any team in the conference. 

    LSU is coming off of a six-point victory over Missouri and is expected to pack the house when Kentucky comes to town. Not to mention, there is talent on the Tigers' roster.

    While the basketball team flies under the radar compared to the football team at LSU, Johnny O'Bryant III was a McDonald's All-American coming out of high school. Joining him is a Kentucky native in Anthony Hickey, who is regarded as one of the, if not the, best defensive player in the conference. 

    Kentucky will have to be ready to guard everyone defensively due to the Tigers' balance. O'Bryant leads the team with more than 14 points per game, but they also have six other players averaging over five points per game. 

February 1: at Missouri

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    After winning its first 10 games and 13 of its first 15, Missouri has struggled with conference play underway. 

    However, it's still a road game against what is a quality opponent in Missouri that Kentucky has to go up against. The Tigers have wins against UCLA, West Virginia and North Carolina State in nonconference games. 

    Kentucky will have to make sure it does its job on the glass, as Missouri is the 25th-best rebounding team in the country with 39.7 rebounds per game. 

    The Wildcats will also have their hands full with a couple of players in Jabari Brown and Jordan Clarkson. Both players are averaging over 18 points per game and shooting just under 50 percent from the field. Brown is a strong outside shooter, connecting on 43 percent of his threes. 

    Both guards are juniors and possess the experience to give Kentucky some fits; however, if the Wildcats bring the defensive pressure, both players have a tendency to turn the ball over. 

February 27: vs. Arkansas

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    Beth Hall-USA TODAY Sports

    It's safe to say Arkansas is a different team on the road than playing in front of its crazy crowd at Bud Walton Arena. The Razorbacks have gone on the road just twice this year and lost both of those games, a 16-point loss to Texas A&M and and five-point loss to Georgia.

    This matchup will be a revenge game for Kentucky. Arkansas handed Kentucky its sole loss in the SEC so far thanks to a putback dunk at the buzzer for an 87-85 overtime victory last week. There's no doubt Kentucky head coach John Calipari will burn that memory into his players' minds. 

    It will be interesting to see how Kentucky's young players respond to playing a team they've already lost to for the second time. If the Wildcats are able to shake the memories of Bud Walton Arena, a statement could be made by Kentucky and gain some momentum for the Wildcats heading into the end of the regular season. 

February 15: vs. Florida and March 8: at Florida

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    These two games are lumped together because there is no question Kentucky and Florida are the two best teams in the SEC this season. 

    Both teams have a balanced and loaded roster with talent at each position. Florida possesses a little more experience thanks to point guard Scottie Wilbekin and center Patric Young. However, that's not to say the Gators have more talent than the Wildcats. 

    It will be important for each team to defend its home court and not get blown out on the road. If Kentucky is able to win both games, expect a 47th SEC regular-season crown and the No. 1 seed for the SEC tournament. 

    These games are also important for Kentucky's tournament resume. With a weak conference this season, there are limited games where Kentucky can make a statement and help its case for a better seed come March Madness.