The Cats take on Florida this Saturday at Rupp with a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament still very much in play. This is a big game, made bigger by the fact this is Senior Day, though ironically it looks like Kentucky will be without its only senior starter for the game.
By Steve Wright
Here are the three keys:
Does Reid Travis play?
This is an obvious key as the Wildcats have missed the inside presence of Travis greatly since he has been out of the lineup with a sprained knee.
Early reports indicated that this game against Florida was the likely return date for Travis, but as the contest has drawn closer it seem less and less possible that Travis will play. Kentucky has gone 3-1 without Travis in the lineup, but even with wins over a couple of decent teams, they just haven’t looked the same.
The good news here is that Travis seems to be progressing nicely with his rehab. The bad news is that the rehab hasn’t been as fast as John Calipari would like. With a double-bye awaiting Kentucky in the SEC Tournament it seems even more unlikely that Travis will be risked for this game.
Watch out for KeVaughn Allen
It has been a weird year for Florida.
The Gators sit squarely on the bubble at this point in a year where the team was supposed to be right up there with the best teams in the SEC. One of the biggest problems for Mike White has been the inconsistent play of the guy who was supposed to be their star.
Allen was billed as one of the best players in the entire league entering this season. He was supposed to be a dynamic scorer at the two-guard position, giving the Gators a constant threat to go off on any night and score 20+ points. Instead, Allen averaged 12 points per game and is just as likely to do nothing as he is to put up a middling performance.
In the first game against Kentucky, Allen scored just 11 points. In his last three games he has scored six, five, and four points against Vanderbilt, Georgia, and LSU respectively. This is, however, a player who scored 31 against Texas A&M earlier in the year, so Kentucky will at least have to be wary if he starts scoring early.
Prepare for a team with nothing to lose
The end of the college basketball regular season is a weird beast. You have some teams, like Kentucky, playing games with high level seeding on the line where one slip up would have disastrous implications for March. Then, on the other hand, you have a team like Florida that has absolutely nothing to lose coming into Rupp.
The Gators are right on the NCAA Tournament bubble. A loss here wouldn’t hurt them (unless they get blown out by 40 points) as they are expected to lose. A win, though, would see them rise up past some of their fellow bubble teams on the strength of this victory alone.
Florida is going to go for this. They are going to throw everything at Kentucky knowing they are in a no lose situation. Kentucky has to know that Florida will be playing that type of basketball and they must be prepared to fight.