Thanks to the Clarion Golden Eagles for coming into Rupp Arena and giving a game effort against the Wildcats. John Calipari's alma mater came in and gave a good account of themselves versus a vastly superior team, and did both the school and our coach proud with their relentless effort.
Examine the score.
Kentucky has played many exhibition games over the years. The last time Kentucky scored over 110 points was just last year, versus Missouri-St. Louis, 111-53. Two games later, Kentucky allowed 111 points in a loss to VMI.
I mention this only to focus the mind of the Big Blue Nation. This victory, and the size of it, is as ephemeral and meaningless as the pixels on your screen. Well, maybe the pixels mean a bit more.
No matter what, this was a much more impressive game than versus Campbellsville. The Wildcats played with more skill, more cohesion, and an equivalent level of intensity and determination. When big guys like DeMarcus Cousins start taking charges, that is motivation and determination. Kentucky has quite possibly taken more charges in two exhibition games this year than they did in the first four games last year. Maybe that is a comment on the disparity of the skill level. Maybe it is a comment on the determination of the team.
My observations follow the jump.
- John Wall was all that he was supposed to be, particularly defensively.
- DeMarcus Cousins gets better with every game. I wonder how long this will continue.
- Darius Miller did not seem all that great, except when you look at his line -- 11 points, 7 assists, 1 turnover.
- Speaking of turnovers, they were not a problem versus the Golden Eagles.
- Patrick Patterson had two beautiful three-point shots. He could have done a bit more, but 14 points and 6 rebounds is not too bad.
- Ramon Harris had a strong game, with 11 points and 7 rebounds.
- Darnell Dodson did not dominate this game, but he did play pretty well.
- UK shot 50% from 3. That is way, way better than they need to shoot to be successful.
- Once again, the 'Cats held their opponent under 30% shooting. That will win every time.
- All this with Eric Bledsoe and Daniel Orton on the bench.
This game didn't mean much, overall, but the coaching staff had to love the improved effort and better execution all around. I must admit, the DDM as currently executed does not look all that different from a regular motion offense, but I also realize that the players have not come anywhere near perfecting the system yet. The thought that it will only get better and better as familiarity with it grows is ... encouraging, to say the very least.
Defensively, I thought Kentucky was really good tonight. Yes, they were playing a markedly inferior opponent, but even considering that, the 'Cats did a good job of fearlessly drawing charges and moving their feet. The effort was there defensively in a game where it didn't have to be for the 'Cats to win.
In the end, this game doesn't tell us much, but it does tell us that the 'Cats have improved over their last effort, which is really the best we could hope out of an exhibition. The score doesn't mean much to me, but the improvement means a lot.