What a day for the football team! Now that national signing day is over, Big Blue Nation can go back to focusing 100% on this young and improving basketball team.
There is actually a lot to cover in Kentucky’s 22 point whomping of South Carolina (thank you to John Calipari for re-introducing me to a fantastic word). Here are the positives and the negatives that I took from the game.
Willie Cauley-Stein Back in Beast Mode- We didn’t see a lot from WCS during the Texas A&M game. Cal said that Nerlens Noel was playing so well that he couldn’t take him off the floor. Cauley-Stein reemerged for Kentucky against the Gamecocks and he made a big splash. He played 22 minutes with 13 points, six rebounds and two blocks. He made some monster jams and gave fans a look at what his presence means for Kentucky down the stretch.
“Uncle” Julius Remained Hot- Mays, along with Noel, has been one of the best and most consistent players on the team during Kentucky’s current four game winning streak. He has found the shooting stroke that was missing in the earlier part of the year. He went 4-5 from the field, all of those were three pointers by the way, and he nailed 3-3 from the charity stripe to give him 15 points overall.
Nerlens Doing What Nerlens Does- Another day in the office for Noel. 10 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks. This young man is being under-sold as a player and should be a National Player of the Year candidate. He means more to Kentucky than does Russ Smith to Louisville and some of the other players on the current watch list.
Ryan Harrow was Consistent- Harrow wasn’t flashy and he didn’t try to do too much. He was 6-6 from the field. He had four assists and only one turnover. He ran the offense effectively and the Wildcats looked like a machine for most of the game. And this is all we need Harrow to do.
Wiltjer did the Other Things- Kyle had only five points, but he had six rebounds and looked to be the catalyst when it came to the offense. His shooting was a bit off but that did not deter him from playing well. He did the other things well enough for Kentucky to be effective.
Calipari Was not Satisfied- How is this positive? It keeps his team focused and motivated. He made the mistake of breathing a sigh of relief after the big win at Ole Miss and was very congratulatory with his team. What happened? The ‘Cats did a sleep walk number at Texas A&M and went into overtime with an inferior opponent that deserved a whomping (I Can’t Help It). So after the 77-55 beat down, Cal had this to say:
We shoot 60 percent, hold them to 28 percent and I’m not happy. I must be a jerk. I’ve been called worse.
I think Cal may have figured out what pushes this team’s buttons.
Big Time Bench- The bench gave the team quality minutes. Jon Hood, Kyle Wiltjer, Jarrod Polson and Willie Cauley-Stein all chipped in with playing time. The bench added 20 points, two blocks, two assists and 14 rebounds. One of the knocks on past Kentucky teams was that the bench was their Achilles Heal. This bench may be the strongest that Cal has had at UK.