Kentucky is coming off the heels of maybe their most impressive victory yet, a 70-55 beatdown of Tennessee in Knoxville last Saturday. With that victory, the Cats have now won three straight and still have a chance at snagging a top-4 seed in the SEC Tournament.
What has changed? Well, the team has hit 41/45 free throws in the last two games and suddenly hit a hot streak from downtown. Individually speaking, freshman forward Isaiah Jackson has become more assertive offensively, averaging 16 points in the last three games and getting to the line 26 times in that span (only 48 in the previous 18 outings).
At the conclusion of figuring how UK has sparked recently, UK transfer guard Davion Mintz attributed it today to a different vibe around the facility.
“I was talking to Keion and Olivier yesterday and it just seems like there’s a different type of feel out there now,” he said.
Fellow grad transfer Olivier Sarr also alluded to that “feel” as something he could visualize, and believes the team can compete with just about anyone.
“The first time was, ‘We can do this.’ And now it’s confidence. We know our value, we know our worth, what we’re capable of. It’s being able to play freely, knowing we can play with any team in this country,” he said.
Their next opponent, the Florida Gators, will definitely be a test. Since UK demolished them 76-58 (largest victory in SEC play) in Gainesville on Jan. 9th, Florida has won five of their last seven games including a victory over Tennessee and at West Virginia. They rank right below Kentucky (now 3rd) nationally in blocks per game (6.17), and are led by guard Tre Mann who last scored 19 points and added 13 boards in their win at Auburn.
Plus, the Gators are projected around a 7-seed in the NCAA Tournament by many bracketologists. Knowing all that, a season-sweep over them would definitely carry UK’s confident posture even taller.