Nov 25, 2013; Lexington, KY, USA; Kentucky Wildcats guard Andrew Harrison (5) and guard Aaron Harrison (2) talk during a time out in the game against the Cleveland State Vikings at Rupp Arena. Kentucky defeated Cleveland State 68-61. Mandatory Credit: Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

Kentucky Basketball: Wildcats Have a Perfect Opportunity to Impress Ed Cooley

The Kentucky Wildcats embark on phase 2, if you will, of their “neutral site” games that are fairly close to their opponents’ backyard.

First it was Michigan St. in Chicago, now it’s Providence in Brooklyn. For Friars fans willing to travel, the three hour drive southwest to the Big Apple is no doubt very inviting.

For Kentucky, this game provides another opportunity to show what they can do against a decent team away from Rupp Arena. We all know what Coach Cal via Twitter said after the Eastern Michigan game and we agree wholeheartedly.

It’s all part of the process of molding this group of young guys and getting them ready for tougher non-conference games, SEC play and NCAA tourney play down the road.

Games like this will allow us to see if Kentucky has learned to avoid the slow starts that have plagued them for a good portion of this season.

If Providence punches UK in the mouth, a second half rally may come up short in the sparkling Barclays Center.

Providence (7-1) is a good team, an experienced team. They have four players averaging double figures. Senior guard Bryce Cotton leads the way at 18.5 ppg, junior forward LaDontae Henton is next at 13.6 points a game.

Senior forward Kadeem Batts and sophomore forward Tyler Harris are next with 13.5 and 13.3 respectively. The good news for UK is that most of their points are from within the arc. Of course it’s still early and anything is possible from game to game, but they come into this game shooting .294 (40-136) from downtown.

All of this is nice. But as the older folks like to say, it doesn’t mean a hill of beans to Providence head coach Ed Cooley.

This game against UK is just another game to him and he went all Gone With the Wind to prove it. The only thing he left out was the “Frankly my dear.”

Cooley is partially right and somewhat justified in his comments though. As far as playing teams on Kentucky’s level every day in the Big East, well he used to.

That’s not the case anymore. Syracuse, UConn, Pitt and Louisville no longer call the Big East home. This isn’t our father’s Big East. Heck, it isn’t even our Big East anymore.

He has every right to get defensive. He has a good team this year, that just happens to get overlooked.

When I think of Providence hoops, the first thing that comes to my mind is the stories I’ve heard and clips I’ve seen of Rick Pitino and his point guard Billy Donovan leading the Friars to the 1987 Final Four when I was 9.

The second thought that comes to mind is God Shammgod. So it’s been a minute for the Friars.

If Kentucky comes out and plays for 40 minutes like they are capable of Ed Cooley will be forced to offer sincere congratulations.

Tags: Kentucky Wildcats SEC

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