LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Old School college basketball fans believe in the importance of the regular season, including the pursuit of a conference title.

New School college basketball fans believe the most important day on the calendar for today’s players is the NBA Draft.

I live in the gray area. I like the regular season as well as the NBA Draft, but I try to relate every part of the season to the NCAA Tournament.

Got me?

So get this: Kentucky continued its push for an improved seed for the 2018 NCAA Tournament (and the Southeastern Conference Tournament) by dispatching Ole Miss, 96-78, Wednesday night in Rupp Arena.

The visitors played like somebody put garlic in their Gatorade, fussing at the officials and tugging on the Wildcats. Ole Miss earned three technical fouls and had one player ejected in the first 5 ½ minutes.

The Rebels hung around for nearly 30 minutes before Kentucky beat the 13th place team in the Southeastern Conference the way you’re supposed to beat the 13th place team in the SEC.

Four Kentucky players scored 15 or more – Quade Green (18), Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (17), Wenyen Gabriel (15) and Kevin Knox (22). The Wildcats shot 50 percent, out-rebounded Ole Miss by eight and led for nearly 37 minutes.

Kentucky started the night as a Five Seed for the NCAA Tournament with Joe Lunardi of ESPN.com, the BracketMatrix and the Bracketville blog. They should remain on the Five line.

Either Auburn or Tennessee (12-5) will win the Southeastern Conference regular season title. The Wildcats are tied with Florida and Arkansas for third place, scrambling for the best possible seed for the SEC Tournament, which opens next week in St. Louis.

This was a strange game. I couldn’t determine if Ole Miss was focused on playing basketball or roller derby. Lots of pushing. Lots of jawing. Lots of nonsense.

Four technical fouls were whistled in the first six minutes. Marcanvis Hymon, an Ole Miss senior forward, was ejected after earning his second technical in the first 3 ½ minutes. He exited with more fouls than points, rebounds or assists.

The Rebels did not play like a team with the second-worst record in the SEC at 5-11. They ran the floor. They scrambled. They launched a crazy number of threes for team that didn’t have an Elston Turner or Marshall Henderson. Not that Ole Miss is a dazzling group of shooters. They’re not. They missed 21 of 30 attempts from distance.

Apparently the Rebels thought three-point shooting was their only opportunity to win. They led 22-21 midway through the first half. They trailed by only eight at halftime, even while allowing Kentucky to score 50 points.

With 14 ½ minutes to play, a basket by Ole Miss guard Terence Davis cut Kentucky’s lead to 59-57. Over the next four minutes Kentucky outscored the Rebels 8-0.

Then Ole Miss guard Breein Tyree, who is 6 feet 2, dunked on Gabriel, who is 6-9. Most observers were impressed by Tyree’s elevation. Gabriel was not. He pushed Tyree into the Ole Miss bench with his forearm while the teams ran to the other end of the court.

Technical foul, the game’s fifth.

Tyree made one of two free throws. Ole Miss scored the next two baskets, slicing the Kentucky lead to 67-64 before John Calipari demanded a timeout with 10:10 to play.

Crisis averted. Kentucky made its next five field goal attempts, surging to an 82-69 lead. The Wildcats cruised from there.

One regular-season game remains for the Wildcats – at Florida Saturday. The Gators defeated Kentucky in Rupp Arena, 66-64, Jan. 20. Florida has won back-to-back games against Auburn and Alabama to improve its SEC record to 10-7.

Copyright 2018 WDRB Media. All Rights Reserved.