In a season where it seemed like not a single thing could bounce right for Kentucky, both figuratively and literally, it feels like Kentucky Basketball is back to national prominence. With many rumors going around about the chemistry of this team, and even rumors hinting at a departure from John Calipari, this team looks to remain focused as we head into March.
Kentucky defeated 10th ranked Tennessee for second time this season, this time in Rupp Arena. Kentucky started out slow offensively, like many games to this point, but unlike many others, the defense looked unstoppable early on. In the first half, Kentucky held the Volunteers to 25.9% shooting and forced six turnovers. Tennessee did not lead at any point throughout the entire game. Much of Saturday's success can be put on Cason Wallace's performance. Wallace finished with 16 points on 6-14 shooting (43%). Wallace recorded 6 assists and 6 rebounds. Wallace has been consistently productive all season and that is why my MVP has to be the other 5-star freshman.
One of many points of focus throughout the postgame interviews was the impact of Chris Livingston. Livingston recorded his greatest stat line as a Wildcat on Saturday and had an urge to contribute, despite Tennessee throwing everything but the kitchen sink at him. Livingston, the raw talent from Akron, Ohio, finished the game with 12 points on 4-5 shooting (80%) and he pulled down 10 boards. In 36 minutes, Livingston was +16, the highest on the team. Livingston fought tooth and nail for each board and even outrebounded Oscar Tshiebwe.
Could it be that, as we head closer and closer to March, John Calipari is doing what he does best, by developing elite high school talent going into the tournament? If Wallace keeps up his significant contributions, and Chris Livingston can put this momentum into the next 4 games to close out the season, we can not only expect Kentucky to MAKE the NCAA Tournament, but fans can get excited about a realistic chance at making a RUN in March.