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UK Loses by 30 in First Game of the Post-Noel Era

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It was a difficult thing to watch. Not just for Kentucky fans, but for anyone who enjoys college basketball and understands why this game played out the way it did.

UK’s thirty point loss to Tennessee Saturday afternoon is its largest in the John Calipari era–by a country mile. It’s the largest margin of defeat, in fact, since the ‘Cats were trounced at Vanderbilt by 41 in 2008, the first of two ill-fated Billy Gillispie-coached seasons.

But this game and whatever happens going forward for Kentucky cannot and should not be compared to those two years. This season is an aberration–for Kentucky and for John Calipari.

The Nerlens Noel injury couldn’t have been predicted. But then again, I guess, one shouldn’t think he could have scored 31 points in this game, either. I know it doesn’t work like that. Had Noel been available, he would have done what he had been doing so well until he went down. He would have been a block monster. He would have scared the bejeezus out of opposing offenses and altered shots.

Here’s something else I would call an aberration:

The Nerlens-less Wildcats looked totally lost against a totally average Tennessee Volunteers team. I have a feeling this is like November. The season has started over again for Kentucky. Only this time, they don’t have three months to come together to prepare for the post-season. This time, they only have just over three weeks. And I don’t think that’s enough time.

And, you know what? That’s going to have to be okay.

The Tennessee game will leave a mark. But I think it will leave a good one. I believe John Calipari will do what he can to make sure a game like this, and even a season like this, doesn’t happen again. Because I get that he’s too much of a perfectionist not to.

And the injury has nothing to do with it. I mean that he’ll need to organize a team that can play in adverse situations like the current one.

Next season’s ridiculously talented recruiting class is a good start.

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