Kentucky Wildcats (1) 74 at LSU Tigers 50:  Postmortem

This was one of those games that happens every now and then when everything just clicks for Kentucky. It has been a while since we have seen them look quite this sharp on both ends of the floor. In the parlance of horseracing, this Kentucky team was "Much the best." For LSU, the horseracing description is "Failed to sustain bid." They got within 1, and were then simply outrun.

The LSU Tigers played hard, but unfortunately, not well. LSU is talented but young, and today, they tried to play way too much one-on-one basketball against a team that was superior at every position by a significant margin. As usual when that happens, it did not end well for the opponent.

With that said, I liked how the Tigers tried to compete. There was an unfortunate flagrant 2 foul against Malcolm White that was unworthy of the classy team that Trent Johnson coaches, but the officials got it exactly right and sent White to the showers to reflect on his reckless, and dangerous act. But that unfortunate event does not supersede the effort these young Tigers put forth in a losing cause. LSU's effort was praiseworthy, even if their team play wasn't very good.

Anthony Davis took a lot of bumps and bruises out there today, including two very scary falls -- one in which he hit his head on the knee of an LSU player that had some kind of neurological impact. Fortunately, it subsided and hopefully isn't any more serious than a bruise.

The second was the aforementioned flagrant foul, in which he was slammed to the ground from behind on a fast break. This was a harebrained and dangerous act that could have easily resulted in major injury, and it was dealt with properly according to the rules. I am thankful for everyone involved that it wound up without major consequences.

Davis also got a whack across the schnoz during a rebound (incidental contact) and tripped to the ground on a drive (also incidental). All in all, the young freshman showed a tremendous amount of toughness, but I have a feeling he is going to wake up tomorrow feeling like he had been subjected to the tender mercies of the BCS runner-up LSU football team rather than in a basketball game.

Superlatives:

  • You have no idea how much pleasure it gives me to write this: Terrence Jones was the player of the game, and gets the A Sea of Blue game ball for the first time in a long, long time.10-16 shooting, 7-8 free throws, 9 rebounds, 2 steals and an assist. 27 points overall. Jones-worthy.
  • Anthony Davis was also fantastic despite winding up on the floor three times, twice in some significant pain. He was tough, and he did what he does -- shot 100% from the floor, had another double-double with 10 rebounds, 3 blocks and 2 steals.
  • Darius Miller played great. 13 points, 5-9 from the field, a rebound, assist, and steal. He should have had at least one more rebound, but it was a cheap foul call.
  • Doron Lamb had a good game, 9 points on solid shooting with 3 rebounds to go with it.
  • Michael Kidd-Gilchrist did not score much, but he defended, got 8 rebounds and 4 assists.
  • Marquis Teague had a good game as well, 4 assists to only 1 turnover, and I thought he ran the team very well and defended the quicker Anthony Hickey really well.
  • Eloy Vargas got rebounds and worked hard. He hasn't had many minutes lately, so it was good to see the big guy get in and do some positive work.
  • Kentucky as a team looked really good to me today. I saw mostly good shots, good patience, and outstanding defensive rebounding.
  • Six turnovers is fantastic.
  • Loved the team rebounding and defense. It was all I could really ask.

Not so superlative:

  • Kyle Wiltjer just wasn't very effective today in any respect.
  • Free throw shooting was poor, especially by Anthony Davis, who only made 4 of 10.
  • Doron Lamb disappeared for long stretches of this game.
  • If Doron Lamb can get three rebounds, why can't Miller, who is much bigger in every dimension?
  • Not sure what that was where we let LSU get to within 1 in the first half. A bit of panic, maybe?
  • MKG's shot selection wasn't very good today for some reason.

Overall, I had to really reach to find negatives in this game, we just dominated LSU completely from tip to horn with the exception of a short stretch in the first half. This was the kind of road effort that leads to real improvement, and I can't express in words my pleasure at the performance of Terrence Jones. This was his most complete and dominant performance of the year, in my view, especially considering that LSU isn't as bad as UK made them look today.

I like what I see, because I see a team rounding into form. They still have a long way to go to reach their potential, but they don't need all of that to show up for a while yet. Marquis Teague is getting it, Jones seems to be back in a big way, and Darius Miller is starting to show the kind of impact that can make this team impossible to defeat.

If you're anything like me, you're loving this.

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