Kentucky Wildcats Schedule: Part Two

Nathan TowlesCorrespondent INovember 9, 2008

Part two of two.

The non-conference games are over in this look at the 2008-09 Kentucky Wildcats schedule. The SEC looks like it will have a better year then it did last year. The freshman are a year older, and more talented freshman come to play.

The Tennessee Volunteers were last year's regular season champions, and picked to win again this year. Florida Gators are picked to finish in second with Kentucky in third.

The Georgia Bulldogs shocked everyone last year at SEC tournament by winning the tournament championship. This year could be the same for some unexpected winners and flopper's.


Preseason First Team All-SEC

  • Patrick Patterson, Kentucky
  • Nick Calathes, Florida
  • A.J. Ogilvy, Vanderbilt
  • Devan Downey, South Carolina
  • Tyler Smith, Tennessee


Preseason Second Team All-SEC

  • Tasmin Mitchell, LSU
  • Chris Warren, Ole Miss
  • Wayne Chism, Tennessee
  • Ronald Steele, Alabama
  • Jodie Meeks, Kentucky


SEC All-Underrated Team

  • Chris Johnson, LSU
  • Jermaine Beal, Vanderbilt
  • Perry Stevenson, Kentucky
  • Dan Werner, Florida
  • Quantez Robertson, Auburn


Now its time to take a look at the conference games for the University of Kentucky.

January 10, 2009 at Lexington, 2 p.m.

  • Vanderbilt Commodores
  • Head Coach: Kevin Stallings
  • 2007-2008 Record: 26-8
  • Conference Record: 10-6
  • Top Returning Players: A.J. Ogilvy (17.0 ppg), Jermaine Beal (7.6 ppg), Darshawn McClellan (2.7 ppg)
  • Top Players Lost: Shan Foster (20.3 ppg), Alex Gordon (10.8 ppg), Ross Neltner (8.3 ppg)

The Commodores lost three of last years starters, but return a talented player in A.J. Ogilvy. The question for this team is who is going to take the shot since Shan Foster is gone?

History is on Kentuckys side in this game. It is at Rupp, where Vanderbilt has had a hard time winning in the past. Since Vandy has lost many of its top players, it is hard to have  them win at Rupp. Kentucky wins 75-65.


January 13, 2009 at Knoxville, 9 p.m.

  • Tennessee Volunteers
  • Head Coach: Bruce Pearl
  • 2007-2008 Record: 31-5
  • Conference Record: 14-2
  • Top Returning Players: Tyler Smith (13.6 ppg), Wayne Chism (9.9 ppg), J.P. Prince (8.0 ppg)
  • Top Players Lost: Chris Lofton (15.5 ppg), JaJuan Smith (14.4 ppg), Ramar Smith (7.4 ppg), Duke Crews (5.4 ppg)

Tennessee does lose two starters from last year in Kentucky native Chris Lofton, and JaJuan Smith. They did have a good signing in swaying away Kentucky native Scotty Hopson from Mississippi State. They are still very talented and have a experienced depth chart.

They are like Kentucky when it comes down to it. They have a lot of inexperienced players in the backcourt. The game is in Knoxville, so the edge goes to the Vols, 72-68.


January 18, 2009 at Athens, Noon

  • Georgia Bulldogs
  • Head Coach: Dennis Felton
  • 2007-2008 Record: 17-17
  • Conference Record: 4-12
  • Top Returning Players: Terrance Woodbury (11.0 ppg), Jeremy Price (8.1 ppg), Zac Swansey (3.9 ppg)
  • Top Players Lost: Sundiata Gaines (14.8 ppg), Billy Humphrey (12.2 ppg, Dave Bliss (7.6 ppg), Jeremy Jacob (5.2 ppg)

Georgia did get hot at the right time last year. It got them into the NCAA tournament by winning the SEC tournament. Don't look for this year to be the same. Georgia is losing three starters from last year.

It may be in Athens, but Georgia doesn't have the power to keep up with Kentucky, 79-64.


January 21, 2009 at Lexington, 9 p.m.

  • Auburn Tigers
  • Head Coach: Jeff Lebo
  • 2007-2008 Record: 14-16
  • Conference Record: 4-12
  • Top Returning Players: Korvotney Barber (13.8 ppg), Rasheem Barrett (13.6 ppg), DeWayne Reed (8.9 ppg)
  • Top Players Lost: Quan Prowell, Frank Tolbert

Auburn did lose two starters, but have a talented player in Quantez Robertson. They still have a problem with lack of size and depth in the front court. If any players get hurt like last year, the season will go with them.

This game being in Rupp doesn't help Auburn any, Kentucky shows them what size and depth is, 85-59.


January 24, 2009 at Tuscaloosa, 3 p.m.

  • Alabama Crimson Tide
  • Head Coach: Mark Gottfried
  • 2007-2008 Record: 17-16
  • Conference Record: 5-11
  • Top Returning Players: Ronald Steele (missed last season), Alonzo Gee (14.5 ppg), Brandon Hollinger (6.3 ppg), Demetrius Jemison (5.6 ppg)
  • Top Players Lost: Richard Hendrix (17.8 ppg), Mykal Riley (14.9 ppg)

If Ronald Steele can perform like he did when he was healthy, then Alabama could return to the top of SEC West. They return starters but it will be hard to replace the two that they lost. The question for them is, who is going to fill the void that Hendrix left in the post?

The season will rest on Steele. If he performs like the All-SEC guard he was, Alabama will be hard to beat. If not, it could be hard for them. The game is in Tuscaloosa and Steele should be back to his prime. Kentucky wins due to no real center for Alabama. It will be close as Steele keeps them in the game, 68-64.


January 27, 2009 at Oxford, 7 p.m.

  • Ole Mississippi Rebels
  • Head Coach: Andy Kennedy
  • 2007-2008 Record: 24-11
  • Conference Record: 7-9
  • Top Players Returning: Chris Warren (15.8 ppg), Eniel Polynice (10.7 ppg), David Huertas (10.7 ppg)
  • Top Players Lost: Dwayne Curtis (14.9 ppg), Kenny Williams (8.5 ppg)

Ole Miss is wanting to take the next step and turn themselves into one of the SEC's elite. Losing two starters won't help, and losing the front court will help them badly. They did play Kentucky to the wire last year in Rupp, but no front court has them hurting in this one, 68-62.


January 31, 2009 at Lexington, 3 p.m.

  • South Carolina Gamecocks
  • Head Coach: Darrin Horn
  • 2007-2008 Record: 14-18
  • Conference Record: 5-11
  • Top Players Returning: Devan Downey (18.4 ppg), Zam Fredrick (14.8 ppg), Dominique Archie (10.6 ppg)
  • Top Players Lost: Dwayne Day, Chad Gray

South Carolina returns all but one starter from last year. The backcourt play will be a must for Carolina this year. The depth will be a concern for them this year. The backcourt will have a extra load on them as the season goes one.

Darrin Horn has already done a good job in his first year without playing a game. He has more talent then recent years. The game is at Rupp, and USC doesn't have much depth in the backcourt, Kentucky loves the big man and feed him every time, UK wins 79-68.


February 3, 2009 at Lexington, 7 p.m.

  • Mississippi State
  • Head Coach: Rick Stansbury
  • 2007-2008 Record: 23-11
  • Conference Record: 12-4
  • Top Players Returning: Barry Stewart (11.5 ppg), Jarvis Varnado (7.9 ppg), Phil Turner (4.0 ppg)
  • Top Players Lost: Charles Rhodes (17.4 ppg), Jamont Gordon (17.2 ppg), Ben Hansbrough (10.5 ppg)

Mississippi State lost three of last years five starters. State does have one of the best shot blockers in the nation in Jarvis Varnado. But this year is a rebuilding year. The bad thing for State is that Barry Stewart got hurt in the offseason playing pick up games.

If Stewart doesn't get back to normal, then they will have to go with inexperienced players. This is a game of asking who will challenge Jarvis Varnado? Kentucky keep on going to the post last year, and Varnado keep throwing them into the stands. This year Kentucky knows better, UK wins at Rupp, 78-70.


February 10, 2009 at Lexington, 9 p.m.

  • Florida Gators
  • Head Coach: Billy Donovan
  • 2007-2008 Record: 24-12
  • Conference Record: 8-8
  • Top Players Returning: Nick Calathes (15.9 ppg), Walter Hodge (10.4 ppg), Dan Werner (9.1 ppg)
  • Top Players Lost: Marreese Speights (14.5 ppg), Jai Lucas (8.5 ppg)

In the past week, point guard, Jai Lucas has chosen to transfer because lack of play at the point guard spot. Donovan has done a good job of getting better recruits for this year. This is still a very young team, and the loss of Speights and Lucas will hurt the team.

Florida must fill the spot that Speights left. A young player must step into the point. If they can do that it can be a good year. Nick Calathes should improve and have a great year.

Kentucky knows what to do with the Gators. Kentucky will feed the low-post the whole game and make Florida come up with plays to defend it. Rupp will be rocking for this one, and Kentucky rocks Florida, 85-77.


February 14, 2009 at Fayetteville, 1 p.m.

  • Arkansas Razorbacks
  • Head Coach: John Pelphrey
  • 2007-2008 Record: 23-12
  • Conference Record: 9-7
  • Top Returning Players: Stefan Welsh (5.3 ppg), Michael Washington (4.3 ppg), Marcus Britt (0.8 ppg)
  • Top Players Lost: Sonny Weems (15.0 ppg), Darian Townes (12.1 ppg), Patrick Beverley (12.1 ppg), Gary Ervin (9.5 ppg), Charles Thomas (9.2 ppg)

Arkansas is starting from scratch this season. They lost six due to graduation and then lost Patrick Beverley. Pelphrey must somehow get his razorbacks ready for the season. It will be hard because the team looks like a high school basketball team.

Kentucky shouldn't have any trouble with a depletted Arkansas team. Kentucky will have its most lopsided win in conference play at 93-56.


February 17, 2009 at Nashville, 8 p.m.

  • Vanderbilt Commodores

This game should be as good as the first. By this time of the year, the Commodores should have found a shooter to replace Shan Foster and found the winning way. Kentucky already has its shooters and a good defense.

This game should be closer, but Kentucky has more talent and a deeper bench. Kentucky pulls out the win, but not by much, 68-65.


February 21, 2009 at Lexington, 1 p.m.

  • Tennessee Volunteers

This game should show who will win the SEC. Tennessee should have ran through the schedule just like Kentucky has. This game will as close as the first game and could go into overtime.

It would be hard to not pick Kentucky to win since it is at Rupp. The crowd will be into the game and lift the cats to a victory over Tennessee, 78-76.


February 24, 2009 at Columbia, 3 p.m.

  • South Carolina Gamecocks

Kentucky will have to keep the emotions under control. They will be facing a dangerous South Carolina team that can knock them off the road. USC should be ready for this game.

Kentucky has to maintain the momentum they would have. The game will be close, but Kentucky escapes with a win in a battle tested game, 72-67.


February 28, 2009 at Lexington, 2 p.m.

  • LSU Tigers
  • Head Coach: Trent Johnson
  • 2007-2008 Record: 13-18
  • Conference Record: 6-10
  • Top Players Returning: Marcus Thornton (19.6 ppg), Chris Johnson (11.6 ppg)
  • Top Players Lost: Anthony Randolph (15.6 ppg)

LSU will get a huge boost, thanks to the return of Tasmin Mitchell. He was hurt in the third game of the season last year, and received a medical red shirt. Mitchell has the potential to be All-SEC forward. He can take over games.

The team only lost one starter and got back another in Mitchell. The only knocking on LSU is: Can the new coach get them to buy into his system and his beliefs? My answer is yes, but Kentucky is more athletic and better coached. Kentucky wins another thanks to Rupp, 75-69.


March 4, 2009 at Lexington, 8 p.m.

  • Georgia Bulldogs

Georgia will probably be in desperation mood. That won't suit well for Rupp and the rowdy fans. Dennis Felton will most likely have one foot out of the Georgia door. Kentucky also slams the door on the bulldogs, 69-57.


March 7, 2009 at Gainesville, 2 p.m.

  • Florida Gators

Kentucky can wrap up a good conference season, but might give players a few less minutes. The young Gators will know more and play harder for Donovan. Florida spoils Kentucky, 66-57.

If all works out for Kentucky the conference record would be at 14-2. That would give them the SEC regular season championship. They would be ready for post-season play in the SEC tournament at Tampa.

The season record for the Cats would be 30-3. That would be a incredible turn around from last years 18-13. However, the cats could stumble in SEC play and be 12-4 again, like last year.


The Pattern of Excellence begins.