I must admit, that score looks as fake as can be, but it is real. I almost feel guilty writing it. I got to catch most of the first half of this game in Richmond while I was returning from a funeral. I didn't feel the need to hang around to the second half of this one, but I watched the recording.
A big thanks to Morehouse College for coming in and working hard. Nobody expected a result like this, and despite the score, Morehouse isn't 85 points worse than Kentucky. They got their best players in early foul trouble and simply don't have enough depth of scoring yet to make up for it. Also, Kentucky was hitting wildly on all cylinders, and before Morehouse could figure out what hit them, the score was out of hand.
Sometimes these things happen in exhibition games, although we haven't seen one like this around these parts in a long time. I can recall a time when the 'Cats were on the short end of a lopsided butt-whipping, but those days are long gone and don't look to be returning anytime soon.
This game was notable mainly for two things -- astonishing defensive intensity for such an early contest, and perhaps the best fast break Kentucky has seen in the modern era. Every player on the floor can lead the break, and the result is usually a spectacular finish. Tonight, there were literally dozens of them.
There was a lot of good. A whole heck of a lot of good.
- The defensive intensity. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist attacked every play, and it was infectious as the rest of the team started doing it also. Kentucky got 11 steals ... in the first half! Game ball to Kidd-Gilchrist. his stat line doesn't show it, but he was the team leader.
- Ballhandling on the break. Man, was it good.
- Positioning on the break. Flawless, for the most part, and unstoppable.
- Shooting. When you shoot from point-blank range over a shorter team, your percentage is usually going to be high, and 65% for the game is definitely high.
- Sharing the ball. This team loves to find the open man, and that is the way to greatness.
- Offensive rebound percentage. Of the 18 available offensive rebounds UK had, they snagged 13. That's as good as it gets, folks.
Believe it or not, there was some bad in this game.
- Ballhandling in the half court. It was just shaky, far too often.
- Defensive rebounding. 47% is a high percentage of OR's to allow Morehouse to get, especially when UK was so very much taller and more talented.
- Careless turnovers. 13 turnovers isn't a lot, but for a team that was as poorly organized on defense as Morehouse was, it is too many. There were also about 10 exchanges that would have been turnovers against a Division I foe.
- Free throw shooting. 64% just isn't good enough for this team. All but two players on the entire team should be averaging 70% from the line.
I really liked starting Darius Miller at the 2 guard, although I think Cal should experiment with that lineup against better teams. It worked really well versus Morehouse. You may not be all that impressed with his stat line, but he played very well on the floor and made a bunch of good plays that don't show up in the stats.
That tackle of Anthony Davis almost caused me to choke on my food. He really needs to bulk up some for his own protection. But man, can that kid run the floor or what? Heck, they all can. It feels like we have five John Walls out there. Oh, and Kyle Wiltjer can shoot a little.
Well, not really much to be learned from this except that the team is clearly improving. Friday will be another incremental test. We'll see how it goes.