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Kentucky still hitting snooze button

What you saw was boredom.

No. 1 Kentucky yawned its way through an 89-86 overtime victory over Mississippi.

Not that the game itself wasn’t entertaining. It was. Seeing Ole Miss’ 5-foot-10 guard Stefan Moody give so much en route to his team-high 25 points that his body started to cramp up. His teammate Jarvis Summers made some unbelievably big shots while scoring 23.

And who can’t get excited about an underdog scrapping and pushing the unanimous No. 1-ranked team to the brink?

But let's be serious for a minute.

This was Kentucky in Rupp Arena, where it has lost only four games in the John Calipari era, and where it has not lost to Ole Miss this century. When it came down to it, Aaron Harrison made shots like he was reliving last year's Final Four run, Willie Cauley-Stein made hustle plays and blocked shots, and the Wildcats won like they knew they would.

Checking the unscientific pulse of Twitter during the game, it wasn’t until the last five minutes of regulation that users really began entertaining the fact that Kentucky could lose. But it was done in such hushed tones that it seemed folks believed the Wildcats would ultimately prevail.

The only reason the Rebels stayed close was because the Wildcats played like that intelligent kid in school who should have skipped a grade but instead stayed behind with the kids his age. When the work isn’t challenging, they look for ways to entertain themselves.

UK is first nationally in so many statistical categories -- including field goal percentage defense at 29.7 percent -- it’s boring to recite them all.

Calipari’s biggest challenge with this team during SEC play will be finding ways to keep them motivated, because talking up the opponents just won’t work.

Ole Miss? It lost at home to Charleston Southern in the season opener.

In fact, most SEC teams have lost to an opponent outside the top 100 of the KenPom.com rankings: Arkansas (to Clemson), Florida (Florida State), South Carolina (Charlotte), Vanderbilt (Rutgers), LSU (Clemson), Texas A&M (Kansas State), Auburn (Coastal Carolina), Missouri (UMKC) and Mississippi State (McNeese State). Georgia, Tennessee and Alabama are the only exceptions.

Kentucky abandoned its identity early in the game, maybe to avoid boredom, and went looking for a thrill-seeking adventure. After jumping out to a 12-0 lead and holding an 18-5 advantage, the game looked to go the path of so many of the Wildcats' others this season.

Thanks to the early success of their perimeter shooting, they forgot about their considerable size in the frontcourt and became a 3-point shooting team. Mind you, they’re not really a 3-point shooting team, but it was probably fun to act like it.

They hadn’t played a nail-biter all season -- their eight-point win over Louisville was previously their closest game -- so why shouldn’t they feel like they can win playing any kind of way?

This is what happens when a team has nine days of idle time between games.

Kentucky hadn’t played since its Dec. 27 win over the Cardinals, which was the fourth Associated Press Top 25 team it defeated during its perfect start. The Wildcats had all that time to hear about how great they were, how historically impenetrable their defense was playing and how an undefeated season and national championship was getting more tangible each game.

And sure, they’ve heard those kinds of things before. But they had the longest stretch of inactivity since the season started to sit and think about it, dwell on it, even believe it.

When their average margin of victory had been 27 points entering Tuesday night’s game, why not believe?

But now, Calipari finally has an Ole Miss tape to show them. This is much different than the Buffalo and Columbia tapes -- the only two teams to lead UK at halftime before Tuesday.

The Rebels played inspired, which might explain how a team that averaged shooting 35 percent from 3-point range went 9-of-17 (52 percent) against UK. They were in it long enough to make Kentucky perk up and play.

The Cats can now start to buy into Calipari's annual hyperbolic claim that they will be every team’s Super Bowl.

Kentucky can expect many more games in which its opponent is charged and gives an effort it might not normally give and make shots it doesn’t normally make. Next time, that game might come on the road and the Cats' opponents will get an added boost from the crowd.

It could be a wake-up call for Kentucky. Then again, Kentucky might continue to hit the snooze alarm in these games until it finally loses one or the NCAA tournament starts up.