Despite the best wishes of Louisville fans and twitter trolls worldwide last night, the Kentucky Wildcats DID win their game last night versus the Vanderbilt Commodores 60-58 last night. And in the long run, that means something and a win is a win. You don’t get points for style, but you have to give Kentucky credit for reversing their meltdown and averting a loss that could have been catastrophic for their season and NCAA seeding.
It’s easy to focus on the negative, but last night we did glimpses of the continual growth of Willie Cauley-Stein, Nerlens Noel and Ryan Harrow. It’s easy to forget the games that these two had and the fact that they are only going to get better:
But Harrow and Cauley-Stein carried the Cats. Both players have been red-hot lately and only got warmer Thursday night. Harrow had 11 points, three assists and two rebounds with no turnovers in the first half. He swished three long jumpers, including UK’s only 3-pointer of the half, and finished one beauty of a play with a drive, hesitation and high-arching floater that was all net.
Cauley-Stein, starting his third consecutive game, put up an absurd first-half stat line: five points, four rebounds, four assists, three blocks and two steals. On one particularly impressive play, he picked a Vanderbilt player’s pocket and threw a perfect lob to fellow big man Noel for a slam.
And bottom line, a win is a win. John Calipari even had words to that effect:
“Have we gotten better? Yeah, I love what I saw in the first half,” Calipari said. And when Vanderbilt threatened to steal the victory: “They responded. Ryan makes a three. Alex makes free throws. Nerlens makes his basket and Kyle made the shot in the middle. Those were big plays for young kids to make, and they made ’em. So we win.”
Yes, I realize that there were moments last night that were bad enough to curl John Calipari’s tie, but Glenn Logan from A Sea of Blue finds a few other positives on last nights game:
- That last possession was very tough defense against a desperate Vanderbilt team. The last shot was about as hurried and long as UK could have hoped for with that much time remaining.
- Wars like this are good for a young team, although it is very hard on us fans. Get over it, let’s let them breathe.
- The more tough road games they experience, the better they will be at the end of the year. We saw that in 2011, only the 2011 team would have lost this game.
- We lost a 16-point lead, went into a 2-point hole and came back to win. That’s a positive.
Itching to get a look at some Future Cats? Well, Louisville is the place to be the next couple of months as some UK commits will be rolling into town:
On Feb. 2, Towns and St. Joseph (N.J.) will take on U of L commitment Quentin Snider and Ballard High at Broadbent Arena. On March 3, Johnson will lead Montverde Academy against Wiggins and Huntington Prep in a battle of nationally ranked teams at Freedom Hall.