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By any measure, UK's schedule is about to get harder

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With a 9-0 record in conference play, UK is the SEC's lone unbeaten team. (Chet White, UK Athletics) With a 9-0 record in conference play, UK is the SEC's lone unbeaten team. (Chet White, UK Athletics)
It's not as if the Kentucky Wildcats are untested.

Already this season, UK has taken down a pair of top-10 teams. The Cats are 4-1 in road games and have blitzed through the first nine games of their Southeastern Conference slate with an average scoring margin of 17.6 points.

Even so, John Calipari's team is about to face a different level of challenges over the final seven games of the regular season.

Here's how UK's remaining schedule shakes out:

Florida
at Vanderbilt
Mississippi
at Mississippi State
Vanderbilt
Georgia
at Florida

Outside of Kentucky, there are three SEC teams with winning records in conference (Florida, Vandy and Mississippi State). UK will play those three teams a combined five times in less than four weeks.

Excluding UK, there are five teams in the top 40 of the RPI as of Jan. 30 (Florida - No. 15, Vandy - No. 26, Mississippi State - No. 35, Alabama - No. 36 and Mississippi - No. 40). All but one of the Cats' remaining games are against those teams.

The Wildcats' 15-game winning streak, though impressive, has been made easier by a conference schedule that, so far, ranks as the 11th hardest among 12 teams according to kenpom.com. By the time this upcoming stretch is over, that will no longer be true.

There's a pretty good chance the youthful Cats will stub their toes at some point in February, but even if they do, this more difficult portion of their schedule will only help them come March. Nearly every time out, UK will be facing NCAA Tournament-caliber opponents, which is exactly the kind of preparation this team needs.

NBA invading Rupp yet again

Press row is going to be a little more crowded than usual on Tuesday night.

When Kentucky and Florida matchup at 7 p.m. as part of ESPN's Rivalry Week, 26 of 30 NBA teams will be in attendance according to DeWayne Peevy, UK's sports information director. In total, 33 NBA personnel are scheduled to be in Rupp Arena.

It should be a productive evening for those scouts, as eight players currently ranked among Draft Express' top 100 prospects for 2012 will be playing in the game, including six from Kentucky.

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