Kentucky 101, Arkansas 70:  Postmortem

19-0.

That's where the Kentucky Wildcats are.  19-0, 4-0.  Pretty much amazing.

The Arkansas Razorbacks had a quick turn-around, playing their second game this week after only a 1-day layoff.  They played a fresh team who had six days to get healthy and in shape.  The outcome was predictable.

This was definitely not Arkansas' best effort, and is not whatsoever representative of the work they have done lately.  Compounding all that was the ridiculous difficulty of trying to come in to Rupp Arena, a place that has become absolutely insane after four years of irrelevance, and trying to knock off a team that out-talents you 2-1.  It was just too big a mountain for the scrappy Hogs to climb.

For the 'Cats, this was their most complete game of the season, possibly a result of the hard work they have put in over the last six days, plus the extra motivation of having the chance to ascend to the top spot in the NCAA polls.  Kentucky basketball, as of today, is completely and totally back from the depths of the Ninth Circle of Hell.  It has been a long, painful journey, but at this precise moment, I find myself completely content.

No, this wasn't the NCAA championship, but we will get more of those.  What leaves me so happy is that this was the kind of basketball that we haven't seen at Kentucky in a long time, since at least 2004.  It is so satisfying that I am replete with basketball happiness, and judging by the fact that nobody in Rupp Arena left despite an early end to the game, so is most of the Big Blue Nation.

More after the jump.

Superlatives:

  • Darius Miller played a great game, and vindicated his place in the starting lineup. Game ball.
  • Patrick Patterson could have done more, but he did enough.
  • DeMarcus Cousins may have left some teeth behind, but he was the best player on the floor today.
  • Eric Bledsoe's defense on Rotnei Clarke was the reason this game never got started for the Hogs.
  • This was the most incredible defensive effort that the 'Cats have delivered all year, from every spot on the floor.  I am going to expect this level of defensive effort from now on.
  • John Wall was ... John Wall -- simply the best player in the nation.
  • DeAndre Liggins wants more, and it shows.  He must have hit the floor a dozen times today.  His coach noticed, and rewarded him with lots of time.  Liggins is becoming the player we all knew he could be.
  • Daniel Orton is the best shot-blocker since Andre Riddick.  I have no idea how many he got today, but per minute played, he must be starting to threaten Jarvis Varnado.
  • Perry Stevenson played very well, I thought.  Happy birthday to Perry.
This was just a fun game to watch if you are a Wildcat fan.  Lots of fun.

Welcome to #1 land, ladies and gentlemen of the Big Blue Nation.  The circle is now complete.  We are back where we belong, and the Long Dark is soooo over.  There are other mountains to scale, but Kentucky basketball, as a program, has returned to the top of mountain, at least for the nonce.

Now, it's time for an encore.  An undefeated regular season, perhaps?
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