As tune-ups go, the Kentucky Wildcat win over the Lamar Cardinals was about as drama-free as you would want. Kentucky jumped on the Cardinals early and scored the first seven points of the game, held off a couple of brief rallies, and cruised to a 86-64 win over Lamar.
Comparisons was the name of the game tonight as this Lamar team had faced #2 OSU and #4 Louisville earlier this season and lost to both teams by 20. Lamar is a pretty good barometer as they came into the game ranked as the fourth best rebounding team in the country and are the type of scrappy team that you can never really put away. Kentucky won the rebound battle by 5, which was in step with what UL and OSU did. Where UL and OSU scored just 68 and 70 versus Lamar, Kentucky scored 86. But that means that they gave up more points also.
Instead of giving you a rundown of the game, I am going to go over a few of the thoughts I took away from the game and what that could mean for the Louisville game.
All in all, it was a pretty sloppy game for Kentucky, which had 17 turnovers. After a few solid games of manning the point, Marquis Teague accounted for six of those turnovers. Teague still plays a bit more out of control at times than I like, but tonight’s turnovers seemed to be of the lack of concentration type. No doubt that Teague has Louisville on his mind as he was thought to be a Louisville lean until very late in his recruitment. Kentucky has other passers though as Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Doron Lamb combined for 6 assists and 1 turnover. Teague had a pretty good offensive game with 15 points and he hit 6-7 FT’s.
Terrence Jones played a pretty solid game and seems to be at about 75%. Jones did not start, but played a good bit and did not shy from contact although he favored his hand some and seemed to hold it a couple of times. Jones had 9 points and 6 boards in just 27 minutes. It did not appear that he did anything to aggravate his hand and hopefully a couple more days rest is all he needs to be ready for Saturday.
Darius Miller is starting to regain his shooting touch, which is essential for Kentucky. Miller went 4-6 from beyond the three point line and finished with 15 points. For Kentucky to be successful, they need another 3-point threat to complement Lamb, and Miller is 41% over his last four games, which includes a 0-3 outing versus Loyola. Look for Darius to continue his best 6th man in the country role versus Louisville as he has hit a nice stride.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist will be the best player on the court Saturday. MKG continued to play very well with 18 points, 6 rebounds, and 4 assists. He and Anthony Davis have the potential to fill up the stat sheet like no one else in the country. Davis had 10 points, 13 boards and 6 blocks tonight.
While the defense did lapse at times, the offense seems to be clicking, aside from a few turnovers. Kentucky hit 7-14 3-pointers, and hit 27-33 free throws (81.8%). When Kentucky shoots like they did tonight, no team in the country can stay within 8 points of them.
While tonight’s game was not perfect by any means, Kentucky fans have a lot of reason for optimism Saturday with the play of Terrence Jones and the FT shooting. Also encouraging was the 3-pt defense as Lamar hit just 2-12 for the night. As long as Terrence Jones’s finger shows no ill effects from tonight’s action, you have to feel pretty good heading into Saturday’s game versus Louisville.