College basketball rankings: Kentucky wins outright SEC title, rises to No. 7 in Top 25 And 1

Kentucky opened the 2019-20 season with an 8-3 record featuring a loss to an Evansville team that’s now 0-18 in the Missouri Valley Conference plus a loss to Utah, which is currently 6-11 in the Pac-12. So, naturally, skeptics emerged. But a lot has changed since then. Namely, Immanuel Quickley has developed into a possible SEC Player of the Year. Nick Richards has also emerged as a reliable big. And — surprise, surprise — the Wildcats suddenly look like Final Four contenders once again.

“I think a lot of people doubted us early,” Quickley said Saturday after leading UK to a 73-66 victory over Auburn inside Rupp Arena. “We lost a couple of tough games in Vegas [to Utah and Ohio State], and people questioned if we could get to this point and eventually get to a Final Four or [win] a championship or something like that. [But] we stayed faithful to the grind and trusted the process.”

As a result, Kentucky is now 24-5 overall, 14-2 in the SEC and league champs for the fourth time in the past six seasons. The Wildcats actually secured their 49th outright SEC title in program history with two regular-season games remaining.

Are the computer numbers strong? For the most part, no.

Kentucky is only 14th in the NET and 26th at KenPom. The Wildcats’ offensive-efficiency rating and defensive-efficiency rating both rank outside of the top 30 nationally. And perhaps that’ll be a fatal flaw. As always, we’ll see. But for now at least, I’m willing to believe in a team that’s 12-1 in its past 13 games and 5-1 in its past six Quadrant 1 opportunities. So Kentucky is up to No. 7 in Sunday morning’s updated CBS Sports Top 25 And 1 daily college basketball rankings. The Wildcats’ next game is Tuesday against¬†Tennessee.

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