As if you couldn't tell by the SEC standings, it's Kentucky…and then everyone else in the conference. When the year began, it looked as if the SEC could go right down to the final game or two with both Vanderbilt and Florida ranked in the nation's Top Ten, possessing Final Four aspirations. With such a young cast of talent for the Wildcats, both the veteran lineups of Vanderbilt (three All-SEC performers, four seniors and a junior starting) and Florida (two All-SEC players, one senior, two juniors, a sophomore and a freshman) were threats to Kentucky. But no more. Kentucky has proved they are in a class by themselves in the SEC, knocking off Florida in a 20-point rout at home and then traveling to Nashville and beating Vanderbilt on the road over the weekend.
Even without a star freshman point guard, likened to a lottery pick like the past few seasons, Marquis Teague elevated his play to another level this past week against the highest level of competition. But it's been freshmen standouts Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist that have more or less carried this team all year long. Both are candidates for conference and national Player of the Year, with Davis, a defensive-stalwart as the leader of the pack; the lanky, yet athletic forward is the Wildcats' leading scorer at 14 points per game (on an SEC-leading 65.1 percent shooting from the field), toss in the fact that he is second in the conference in rebounding at a hair under 10 a game (9.9 to be exact) and a nation-leading 4.9 blocked shots a game.
Kidd-Gilchrist, along with veterans Doron Lamb and Terrence Jones, have also sat in the shadows of Davis' media shadow, but have been solid, if not spectacular at times. Gilchrist is versatile and a force on both ends of the floor with his physicality, motor and ruggid play. Lamb has given this Kentucky team a much-needed outside shooting threat (48.1 percent from 3-point range), but also has the ability to dribble-drive and create for others. Jones, a pre-season All-American, has not bested his freshman year numbers, but the lefty post is a big reason for the emergence of Davis and Kidd-Gilchrist and thus, a huge contributor to the overall success of the Wildcats this year.