Wildcats wrap up regular season crown and head for post-season tournament play

Eric Howard is a Calvert City native who lives in Lexington and is a committed UK Wildcat fan. His column 'Big Blue Notes' appears regularly in The Lake News.

Eric Howard is a Calvert City native who lives in Lexington and is a committed UK Wildcat fan. His column ‘Big Blue Notes’ appears regularly in The Lake News.

Cats clinch regular season crown
John Calipari’s squad wrapped up their third straight Southeastern Conference regular season title with Saturday’s 71-63 victory at Texas A&M. The Wildcats fell behind early for the third straight game before rallying back from double digits to defeat the Aggies.
DeÁaron Fox led the Wildcats in his homecoming to Texas with 15 points while Isaiah Briscoe recorded seven points, six rebounds, and eight assists. Malik Monk, the SEC’s leading scorer, only tallied six points in his first non-double digit scoring effort of the season.

Kentucky finished out the regular season with a 26-5 overall record while going 16-2 in conference play. The regular season title is the 48th in school history and the fifth for John Calipari in his eight years.

The Wildcats enter this week’s Southeastern Conference tournament as the overall No. 1 seed and will play the winner of the Georgia/Tennessee game at noon on Friday. The quarter final game will be televised on the SEC Network with the semifinals and finals broadcast on ESPN.

Kentuckians leading Cats into postseason play
While the national pundits may focus on John Calipari’s star-studded freshmen, the Wildcats’ two Kentucky-born seniors are quietly leading the Wildcats into postseason play.

Mt. Washington’s Derek Willis has recently worked his way into Kentucky’s starting lineup with his improved rebounding and defensive presence. Willis, always known for his perimeter shooting, has become a consistent force for the Wildcats on both ends of the court.

The Kentucky native also made history at this past Tuesday’s Senior Day festivities by becoming the first active Wildcat player to propose during a game. Willis’ longtime girlfriend, Keely Potts, happily said yes to a cheering Rupp Arena crowd.

Willis’ commonwealth cohort and roommate, Dominique Hawkins, has also worked his way into John Calipari’s rotation. Hawkins, a Richmond native, was originally committed to South Carolina before John Calipari watched him play in Kentucky’s Sweet 16 four years ago.

While not a highly touted prospect, Dominique has always held the trust of John Calipari because of his tenacity on the court. Constantly surrounded by future NBA players during his time at Kentucky, Hawkins has developed into the Wildcats best defender and a solid offensive contributor.

While neither Kentuckian will likely earn a roster spot in the NBA next season, both will have the opportunity to play professionally overseas. After playing four years on John Calipari’s star-studded rosters, they also likely have the wealthiest group of friends of anyone to every play for the Cats.

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