Julius Randle is used to the hype. He has been used to it for quite some time now. He was an obvious choice as a McDonald’s All American. Upon committing to Kentucky on March 20, 2013, the hype only increased.
Over the summer he teamed up with Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart to feed the frenzy even more.
On Oct. 16 former Virginia Tech coach and current ESPN analyst went so far as to compare Randle to LeBron James himself.
Fast forward to Big Blue Madness on Oct . 18 and there were more flashes. Although they weren’t playing all that hard, fans were still able to see Randle handle the ball in the open court. Eleven days later he dropped 21 points and eight boards during the Blue – White Scrimmage.
All of this was just a foregleam of things to come once the season started. Randle would go on to join former UK center Jim Andrews as the only Wildcats to record seven consecutive double doubles to start a season.
He now returns to his old stomping grounds of Dallas, TX to face the Baylor Bears. Andrew and Aaron Harrison return to Texas too as they are from just down the road in Ft. Bend.
Once again this is another game in which Kentucky faces an opponent in their own back yard.
It’s not as if Randle needs the extra motivation but playing at home in front of his family and friends will definitely provide it. Coming up two rebounds short of his eighth career double-double my provide even more incentive. Randle had 12 points and eight rebounds in 34 minutes against Providence.
There is one more reason why Randle will leave AT & T Stadium with his eighth double-double in nine games. It is none other than fellow big man Willie Cauley-Stein. Willie is in a nice groove right now, flashing several facets of improvement in his game from last year. In his last three games he has totaled 41 points, 20 rebounds and 20 blocked shots.
Cauley-Stein is forcing opposing defenses (and offenses for that matter) to pay attention to him. This in turn makes life easier for Randle. He may only see triple teams now as opposed to quadruple teams. Randle has no doubt made things easier for Willie as well.
Cauley-Stein will have his hands full with Baylor big man Isiah Austin. That will be a fun matchup to watch.
Expect Randle to come out strong and set the tone and start the double-double train up once again.