Cats hope to make a statement in first SEC road game


By Keith Taylor, Kentucky Today

LEXINGTON  (KT) — Kentucky wants to make a statement when it resumes Southeastern Conference play in a battle of ranked teams Tuesday night at LSU.

The No. 16 Wildcats (11-2) carry a four-game winning streak into the league showdown but want to prove they can win away from home. In its last road game at Notre Dame, Kentucky dropped a 66-62 decision to the Irish in a game that went down to the wire, only to see the Wildcats collapse in the closing minutes.

“It’s a statement game,” Kentucky guard Davion Mintz said of the LSU game. “We want to try and get a really big road win. They’re a great team and they play well at home. (We want to prove) that we can bounce back on the road, that would be big for us.”

Mintz added that statement would be to show the Wildcats “can come into your house and we can dominate the same we do (at Rupp Arena).”

“We want to prove that there is no layoff and that we’re a legitimate top 10 team in the country, no matter if we’re playing at home or if we’re away,” he said. “We just want to prove that there’s no layoff wherever we play at. We can play anybody anywhere and prove we’re legitimate and more so to ourselves than just everyone.

“The first step is proving to ourselves (that we’re legitimate).”

Kentucky assistant coach Chin Coleman said the game also is another opportunity for the Wildcats to continue on its current trajectory of scoring points at a high rate and playing solid defense.

“Our mentality is to go on the road and get some roadkill,” he said. “Obviously it’s a big game because it’s the next game on the schedule. … We’re trending in the right direction right now and we want to continue to do that with the way that we’re playing on both ends of the floor.”

Much like they witnessed in South Bend, the Wildcats are expecting a hostile environment and the Tigers will honor one of their former coaches as “Dale Brown Court” will officially be dedicated, featuring a video and presentation at halftime.

This time, Mintz said, the team knows what to expect from tipoff until the final buzzer.

“(We know) how it feels, especially with a crowd going into the game,” Mintz said. “Obviously the other team is super excited and they’re really excited about having us there and in some cases, they are holding a ceremony or doing something special just because we are there. It’s an attraction when we play in their arena.”

The 21st-ranked Tigers (12-1) won their first 11 games before dropping a 70-55 decision to No. 9 Auburn last Wednesday and will be Kentucky’s first ranked opponent since opening the season against Duke. Coleman said a lot has changed since the first game of the season and added the biggest difference is the team’s mentality.

“Our swagger is back,” he said. “No matter who we play, we’re playing against ourselves … it doesn’t matter who we play, I promise you we can play any ranked team in the country.”

Gametracker: Kentucky at LSU, 7 p.m., Tuesday. TV/Radio: ESPN, Uk Radio Network.