Kentucky Wildcats win over Mississippi Rebels a true team effort

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Jan 29, 2013; Memphis, TN, USA; Mississippi Rebels forward Murphy Holloway (31) goes up for a dunk and is guarded by Kentucky Wildcats forward Nerlens Noel (3) during the game at the Tad Smith Coliseum. Kentucky Wildcats defeated the Mississippi Rebels 87-74. Mandatory Credit: Spruce Derden–USA TODAY Sports

To be honest, I am still kind of in awe of Kentucky’s win over the Mississippi Rebels last night. Not that the Wildcats won the game, but HOW they won the game. Despite being knocked down for a nine count during the Rebel’s 16-0 run, these Wildcats got off the mat and smashed the Rebels back. Nerlens Noel cemented his status as the number one draft pick with a mind-boggling 12 blocks … five of which came after he amassed his fourth foul and I believe all of them in the last four minutes or so. It was a performance that brought to mind Anthony Davis’in the national title game. In that game, Davis struggled from the field (1-10) but finished with 16 rebounds and 6 blocks. In this game, Noel had just 2 points, but took just one shot. But Noel pulled down 7 rebounds to boot.

And I hate comparisons to Davis, but after tonight, Noel is right on Davis’s shot blocking numbers. Literally. After 20 games, Davis had 95. Noel now has 94 and is on a literal tear through the SEC. It was a night of outstanding performances all around, and John Calipari shares his thoughts:

Jan 29, 2013; Memphis, TN, USA; Kentucky Wildcats forward Kyle Wiltjer (33) goes up for a dunk during the game against the Mississippi Rebels at the Tad Smith Coliseum. Kentucky Wildcats defeated the Mississippi Rebels 87-74. Mandatory Credit: Spruce Derden–USA TODAY Sports

When Kentucky was crippled by sever foul trouble in the first half, Kyle Wiltjer stepped up.  He had 17 in the first half en route to a career high 26 points and almost kept Kentucky in the game by himself.   He has averaged 16.4 over his last five games and almost as importantly, is averaging 2.6 assists per game.  Wiltjer has become more aggressive and drove to the basket a lot more and created his own shots while dishing the ball.  Alex Poythress for one, is a lot better offensively when Wiltjer is on the court.  Even though the stats were not as gaudy (15 points and 7 rebounds), Poythress absolutely dominated in the second half after the Rebels keyed on Wiltjer.  We saw a more confident, aggressive Poythress.  He drove in witwh authority for two straight layups and then when Wiltjer missed a three pointer, Poythress had a “mans” rebound and dunked with a vengeance.  And for those wanting smiles, here is video of Wiltjer and Poythress after the game, both smiling and talking:

 

Jan 28, 2013; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Houston Rockets power forward Patrick Patterson (54) hangs from the rim after dunking against the Utah Jazz during the first quarter at EnergySolutions Arena. Mandatory Credit: Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Even though he is in the midst of the NBA season, Patrick Patterson still is following Kentucky basketball and even offers up an opinion on the Harrison Twins:

 

“The Harrison Twins are extremly gifted,” Patterson continued. “What blows my mind. Usually, when you have twins like that on the court together, they seem to want to do too much. But when they are out there together, they’re both averaging 18-20 points a game.”

 

I you go to this link, there is a pretty good writeup on the Harrisons and a pretty good video so you can get to know them better.

 

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