Well, I predicted this game was likely to be uncompetitive in the game preview (Yeah, I know, I'm a regular freaking Nostradamus) and it was. Kentucky had no problem with the young Radford Highlanders on their home court and ran off with a dominating 48-point victory.
Thanks to Radford for coming in and battling, but it was just too much to ask of them. The Highlanders are young and will get better, but there is a reason Kentucky is the second-ranked team in America. Radford can console themselves on the way to the bank with the juicy payday they got tonight in Lexington, and the young Radford guys got some valuable experience playing against top talent.
I'm not real sure what Kentucky got out of this deal other than a win. I know this game was part of the tournament, but it pains me to see us play teams with this much talent disparity, not just because the score winds up looking like a run-up, but because it seems little more valuable than an inter-squad scrimmage. Be that as it may, there were some positives in here for UK.
- I thought Marquis Teague played really well overall. He still makes mistakes, but that's to be expected. I just thought this was maybe his best game on both sides of the court. Three turnovers is okay. Game ball.
- Terrence Jones played well, scored and rebounded.
- Anthony Davis had a very good game overall, very consistent. This game looked, for the most part, like every other game he has played, and he impacted both ends of the floor.
- Eloy Vargas played well, particularly defensively. He is definitely improving.
- Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Kyle Wiltjer had good games, especially rebounding the ball. Kidd-Gilchrist had a near double-double and three steals, and Wiltjer had five offensive rebounds out of his total of eight. [Note: This is a revision from the earlier version. I was apparently not working off a correct stat sheet when I initially wrote this. Thanks to those who brought this to my attention]
- Darius Miller, and Doron Lamb were just okay. None of them shot, rebounded, handled or passed particularly well.
- Overall, I think UK took pretty good care of the ball. 17.6 TO% by my rough calculation, and that is acceptable if not great. Call it decent.
- Free throw shooting was 87%, 21 of 24. Call that outstanding.
- Defensively, the Wildcats were just great as a team. This looks like the best defensive team of the Calipari era.
- The team attitude was much more professional. Intensity was very good.
Not so great
- Terrence Jones had five turnovers. Five turnovers is too many for any player, especially one as talented as Jones.
- UK didn't shoot the ball well enough given the level of competition.
- I thought the transition game was not great tonight. Players were giving the ball up at the wrong time and to the wrong man in the wrong place. Kentucky players were repeatedly stripped on the way to the basket.
- I'd like to see better screens. Several were just poor.
- The half-court execution was a smidgen below what I hoped for.
Those are my observations, for what they are worth. Kentucky's next opponent is Portland, and they are much better than Radford, although still only a minor challenge at best for this Kentucky team, and have only a marginally better chance of the upset. With that said, Portland should be competitive for most of a half at least.