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Kentucky Wildcats earn top spot in preseason poll

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The Kentucky Wildcats are in familiar territory.

For the second consecutive season, the Wildcats sit atop the first preseason USA TODAY Coaches Poll, which was released Thursday.

Kentucky garnered 24 of the 32 first-place votes. No. 2 Arizona earned three, No. 3 Duke received two first-place votes and No. 4 Wisconsin received No. 1 consideration with three votes.

Kansas, North Carolina, Florida, Virginia, Louisville and Texas round

out the top 10.

Kentucky was voted preseason No. 1 last year based on an influx of high school All-Americans. The team jelled midseason and caught fire on its way to the national championship game where the Connecticut Huskies beat the Wildcats, 60-54.

Head coach John Calipari welcomes back most of that team. Willie Cauley-Stein, Alex Poythress, Dakari Johnson, Marcus Lee, Andrew Harrison and Aaron Harrison will be joined by another group of highly sought recruits, including centers Karl Towns and Trey Lyles.

“I never expected my guys to return like they did,” Calipari told USA TODAY. “I’ve never had to coach this way, playing so many guys. It’s the only way to do it right so these kids get the chance they deserve. But there’s a real challenge here. They have to become great teammates. Can they share? Can they sacrifice? Can they handle adversity together?”

The Wildcats open their season on Nov.14 against Grand Canyon.

Up to the minute news and reports from the news wire of The Sports Xchange.

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