Brooks and the Wildcats aren’t taking a fun trip for granted – Reuters Sports News


Kentucky Wildcats forward Keion Brooks Jr. (12) leads the way against Florida. – Photo by Jeff Moreland

Keion Brooks is enjoying the trip.

The Kentucky forward said the Wildcats were “having fun” heading into the final four games of the regular season, on and off the field.

“We appreciate each other, we appreciate the journey we’ve had together and we don’t take it for granted,” Brooks said Tuesday. “We have a great group of guys. I love being around each other. Love to compete with each other. Enjoy pushing each other to improve each day. And that’s something we’re proud of. And like I said, we’re enjoying this trip together and it was really fun.

Kentucky (22-5, 11-3 Southeastern Conference) takes on LSU on Wednesday, looking to gain ground on conference leader Auburn, which holds a one-game lead over the Wildcats in league standings. In a meeting earlier in the season, LSU edged Kentucky 65-60 on Jan. 5 at Baton Rouge.

Since that time, Kentucky has lost just three games and is in a position to eventually clinch a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. In their last outing, the Wildcats rallied 13 points from a deficit for the second time this season and swept Alabama last Saturday. Kentucky was without starting guards Sahvir Wheeler and TyTy Washington, which made the victory over the Crimson Tide even more rewarding.

“I think it just shows the depth and resilience of our team,” Brooks said. “We have a lot of guys who are ready to step in when the time is right when their name has been called. I think we made that last game.

Kentucky’s coaching staff was pleased with the successful rally, including assistant coach Orlando Antigua.

“It says we have a really good all-around team, and we’ve been able to build a next-man mentality, understanding that throughout the season you’re going to face challenges, you’re going to face obstacles, you’re going to have to deal with injuries,” he said. “And all of that means giving someone else the opportunity to step in and do what the team needs for us to try to win. And you know, the Alabama game was a great example of that.

Although he’s a veteran, Brooks said the Wildcats aren’t led by a solo act but rather by the team’s core upper class men.

“We lead by committee,” he said. “We got the coaching staff. We have the, you know, veteran players. I’m not going to disrespect my other teammates that I put in and just say, now that we’re heading into the practice tournament, it’s time for me to take matters into my own hands and be the leader. It wouldn’t be fair to them. It wouldn’t be fair for all the hard work they put in. So I’m not going to call myself team leader. With two months left in the season, I don’t think that’s fair.

As the regular season draws to a close, Brooks is focusing on the here and now rather than the playoffs.

“I’m not really looking forward to the NCAA Tournament (right now),” he said. “We have tough games ahead of us and we all know we understand that. You have a team as connected and locked in as we are right now, you don’t have to worry about losing focus at all.

Game tracking: LSU at Kentucky, 9 p.m., Wednesday. TV/Radio: ESPN2, British radio network.

Keith Taylor is a sportswriter for Kentucky Today. Reach him at [email protected] and via Twitter at keithtaylor21.


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