The Kentucky Wildcats remain undefeated through the first 27 games of the season, but the quest for a perfect season could have a few teams standing in the way.
On Saturday, the Wildcats trounced Auburn, scoring 52 points in the first half and an incredible 58 in the second half en route to a 110-75 victory. The consensus No. 1 team now has four games left in the regular season, including a matchup against No. 18 Arkansas, but it seems likely that Kentucky will remain undefeated going into the SEC Tournament.
“We cherish these moments,” said Wildcats forward Karl-Anthony Towns, who also grabbed 10 rebounds and blocked four shots. “Not every game is going to be like this. We executed, played great defense and also made a lot of shots.”
So just what team has what it takes to knock Kentucky out of the ranks of the undefeated? Several teams have been close, including LSU, who played a close game against the Wildcats. The Wildcats also came close to their first loss in two consecutive games, overcoming Mississippi in overtime on January 6 and then needing double overtime to defeat Texas A&M on January 10.
But there may not be many teams left that can knock off Kentucky.
USA Today writer Scott Gleason thinks that Duke would pose an interesting matchup.
“Though there are other teams that match up better with Kentucky on paper, such as Wisconsin or Arizona, Duke has strengths that could rattle the nation’s best team. Plus, both of these teams are hot right now — Kentucky just blitzed Auburn by 35 points for another normal SEC demolition, and the Blue Devils edged rival North Carolina in a classic last week before drubbing Clemson without their best player in a showing that coach Mike Krzyzewski called ‘one of the best wins we’ve had here in a long time.'”
But it’s likely that Kentucky and Duke wouldn’t meet until the National Championship, at which point the Wildcats would have a chance to become the first unbeaten team since Indiana in 1976.
There is another way that Kentucky could be handed their first loss, Auburn coach Bruce Pearl said. The Wildcats rely on a very physical style, Pearl noted, so a tightly called contest could spell trouble for them.
“I would just hate if they (the referees) started calling it really different in the tournament,” Pearl said. “(The Cats) are very physical when they post up… and none of those were fouls tonight.”
But when asked if Kentucky can remain undefeated, Pearl said he can definitely see it happening.