The Kentucky Wildcats have shown at times this season how brilliant they can be on the court. At other times, though, they have also shown their youth. With only one returning starter from last year's team, the Wildcats have found themselves in many late-game situations that they should not have been in.
There were close games against Miami (OH), UNC, and Georgia where freshmen were asked to step up instead of upperclassmen. This is also disregarding the sole loss that UK suffered at the hands of South Carolina.
Age shows every season, and it has been seen plenty of times this season in Eric Bledsoe and John Wall's turnovers, and in DeMarcus Cousins nearly fighting someone every time he steps on the court.
Composure is a must-have come tournament time, and DeMarcus Cousins must settle down. It has gotten to a point where teams know he plays with a hot head, and they try to get in his head every game and get him to throw a punch or elbow to get him ejected.
In the Ole' Miss game John Wall and Eric Bledsoe were both guilty of leaving their feet before passing the ball, which turned into a turnover or an errant pass that went the Rebels' way for fast break points. Against great teams that UK will most likely see in the tournament, those turnovers can cost you a game or even your season.
The young stars aren't the only ones making the mistakes though. Darius Miller has also been turning the ball over and committing ridiculous fouls at the other end of the court, sending the opposition to the line.
Youth is a huge problem in high pressure games, which is what every tournament game is. Patrick Patterson will be asked to step up his game down the stretch. The young guys will look to him for leadership, and he will have to perform at a much higher level than he has recently.
You can outgrow youth, and I believe that the Wildcats are very capable of doing so. They have an amazing coach in John Calipari who has been there before and knows what it takes to get young players to mature quickly. Take a look at Derek Rose in his one season at Memphis.
Time also allows the young to grow up. With every experience the Wildcats go through, they become more experienced. Some people say it is a good thing the Wildcats lost to South Carolina. While I don't believe it is a good thing they lost, it was definitely a good experience for the team.
Feeling what it's like to lose on a collegiate level was most likely an eye opener for the freshmen class. They felt what it is like to disappoint an entire state. Sure, some fans probably took it a little far but everyone knows one loss is better than four.
Immaturity is shown game in and game out by these young 'Cats, but if they do find a way to grow up and play with fewer mistakes, they will be very dangerous come tournament time. Only time will tell if they have what it takes to beat elite competition in the national spotlight.