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Hawkins, seniors will be the key for Cats in postseason

Dominique Hawkins and Mychal Mulder will be counted on to provide leadership and valuable minutes for the Wildcats during the postseason (Tammie Brown Photo)

When Kentucky takes on Georgia today in the Southeastern Conference Tournament here in Nashville, it will be the beginning of the last hurrah for seniors Dominique Hawkins, Derek Willis and Mychal Mulder.

Hawkins and Willis were part of two Final Four teams, including one national runner-up squad during their first two years with the Wildcats and would like nothing than to end their careers with a national championship.

Before the senior trio can look that far ahead, Kentucky, considered a lock for a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament, will take on Georgia for a third time this season.

It was the play of Hawkins that prevented the Wildcats from suffering a possible setback in Athens nearly three weeks ago and Kentucky coach John Calipari hasn’t forgotten Hawkins’ contributions in an 82-77 victory over the Bulldogs. In addition to Hawkins, Mulder made a couple of clutch 3-pointers in the five-point victory.

“The guy that won the game for us was Dom,” Calipari said Thursday. “The way he played, how he changed the complexion of the game and the things that he did. And the other guy was Mike Mulder making some shots because we had a bunch of guys that couldn’t make a shot.”

Calipari added that he wants the Wildcats to play with energy and focus throughout the tournament.

“Are we ready to just swarm and scramble and play with great energy, and pass the ball and fly up and down the court?” he said. “I’d rather have a team that doesn’t run a whole lot of plays, just go, move the ball, create good shots for each other. If it’s a dead ball and you have to, OK, we’ll run something. But every year you’re looking, you want to be your best all season at that time and this team is starting to get there. Are they where they need to be? I probably would say I never would be satisfied.”

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