Men's Basketball
Big Blue Preview: Kentucky vs. Texas A&M (SEC Tournament Quarterfinals)

Big Blue Preview: Kentucky vs. Texas A&M (SEC Tournament Quarterfinals)

No. 9 Kentucky is coming off perhaps its most impressive win of the 2023-24 season, an 85-81 triumph at Tennessee on Saturday. The Cats now head into the postseason riding a five-game winning streak and with what seems to be a ton of momentum.

UK opens play in the Southeastern Conference Tournament on Friday night, facing Texas A&M, which beat Ole Miss 80-71 on Thursday night . UK assistant to the head coach Bruiser Flint admits that he’s not sure how these young Cats will handle their first experience with postseason play.

“We’ll see on Friday. You never know,” Flint said. “You’ve got a lot of guys who have never been in this situation before, pretty much the entire team.”

How the Cats will react remains a wild card, but Flint knows it’s all about being ready to go when it’s your turn to play.

“It’s all about the prep,” Flint said. “As long as we’re prepared mentally, physically, to go, we’ll be alright. But this is going to be different for the guys.”

UK head coach John Calipari has been known to downplay the importance of the SEC Tournament. Flint and the staff are hoping that UK’s strong play continues this week in Nashville.

“I think he (Calipari) just wants us to play well and keep our momentum going, the way we’ve been playing the last few weeks,” Flint said. “That’s the biggest thing right there. I think the guys are excited to go into the tournament.”

The SEC has proven to be deep and tough this season, which makes the prospect of winning the tournament this week even harder than it usually is.

“It’s going to be tough. This league has been really good,” Flint said. “It’s very even from top to bottom. There’s going to be some good games in this tournament.”

Kentucky hopes to continue its strong play of late. If that happens, Friday could be the beginning of a March to remember.

Cats in the SEC Tournament

The Wildcats are seeking their seventh SEC Tournament championship under head coach John Calipari and 32nd overall. UK will need two wins to advance to its ninth SEC Tournament title game in the last 14 tournaments played.

• Kentucky leads the league with 31 SEC Tournament titles. The Wildcats are 135-29 all-time in the SEC Tournament, including 46-12 in the quarterfinals
• Calipari’s teams at UMass, Memphis and Kentucky have been to 19 conference championship games, winning a remarkable 15 of them. Calipari is 58-15 (.795) all-time in conference tournaments, including 24-7 (.774) at UK
• Calipari’s 24 victories are tied with Tubby Smith for the third-most in tournament history. Only Billy Donovan (27 in 18 seasons) and Wimp Sanderson (25 in 13 seasons) have more
• Kentucky has played in the championship game of the SEC Tournament in eight of Calipari’s 14 tourneys, winning six times (2020 tournament not played because of COVID)
• Calipari has won six SEC Tournament titles. Only Alabama (8) has more in program history than Calipari has won in total

Four Wildcats Earn SEC Honors

Headlined by freshmen guards Reed Sheppard being tabbed the Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Year and Rob Dillingham earning SEC Sixth Man of the Year accolades, four members of the Kentucky men’s basketball team were honored with postseason accolades by the conference’s coaches on Monday. Senior Antonio Reeves earned All-SEC First Team distinction, while UK’s award winners were also tabbed to the All-SEC Second Team. Sheppard and Dillingham were joined by D.J. Wagner on the All-SEC Freshman Team.

• Head coach John Calipari has now coached 35 players (37 total honors) who have earned All-SEC first- or second-team accolades
• At least one player has been named to the All-SEC Freshman Team in each of Calipari’s 15 seasons, including 34 total honors
• Sheppard is the 10th player under Calipari to earn SEC Freshman of the Year by the league’s coaches. He is the 11th different UK player to win the honor in the award’s history. Sheppard is the first UK player to win the award since Keldon Johnson in 2019
• Dillingham is the fifth UK player under Calipari to take home
SEC Sixth Man of the Year distinction. He joins Darius Miller (2012), Kyle Wiltjer (2013), Devin Booker (2015) and Reeves (2023) as winners

Related Stories

View all