This was a game where the Kentucky Wildcats were seriously challenged in the first half, and Anthony Davis wound up in foul trouble, which exacerbated the problem quite a bit. Ole Miss was on a roll, and the Wildcats on their heels. But they responded late in the first half in a way that will make coach John Calipari proud.
Well done by the Mississippi Rebels. Ole Miss has some significant talent, they just don't quite have the confidence to sustain a challenge against Kentucky. Terrance Henry is a very talented player, and for a while, he absolutely owned every Wildcat who guarded him. As the game wore on, he wore down and began to shoot poor shots, but he is a very skilled player. Jelan Kendrick, the troubled but extremely skilled young man who was dismissed from Memphis showed his great skills, but he simply doesn't have the mentality it takes to win at this level yet. Good try by the Rebels in a tough situation.
Let's face it, though -- it is impossible to zone Kentucky at home. It isn't just Ole Miss, if this had been the Syracuse Orange, the outcome would have been the same. You cannot zone the Wildcats and survive, they simply have too many weapons at too many positions, and they will make three pointers from somewhere. Darius Miller started out cold, but then began to rain on the Rebels, as did Doron Lamb and Kyle Wiltjer. If you can't play Kentucky man-to-man, you can forget about winning.
- Terrence Jones. A double-double, and even though he had some moments in the first half where he played like an eighth-grade girl rather than a talented NBA-bound stud, he rediscovered his manhood and finished the game strong. 7-11 shooting, 15 points and 11 rebounds. Game ball.
- Darius Miller. Miller deserved serious consideration for the game ball, but I thought Jones was just a tiny bit better. That dunk he put on Reginald Buckner will be a SportsCenter highlight for a while. 14 points including 3-7 3's, a rebound, a block and a couple of steals.
- Kyle Wiljer was also considered for the game ball. All he did was shoot a lights-out 3-4 from 3 and 5-6 overall, for 13 points, a rebound, and an assist.
- Marquis Teague continues his excellent point guard play. 8 assists, 3 turnovers, 5 points. Great game.
- Michael Kidd-Gilchrist did a lot of good things, but he is still having trouble scoring. He's doing everything else, though, and his intangibles are off the charts. He had 7 rebounds, 4 points, 2 assists and 2 steals.
- Doron Lamb continues to do what he does best -- score. Today, he scored 16 points, made 4-6 threes, and all his free throws.
- Anthony Davis had a relatively quiet game with only 10 points, 4 blocks and 6 rebounds, but he was limited quite a bit by fouls.
Not so superlative:
- Free throw shooting.11-17 sucks, pure and simple.
- Basketball IQ. We have to realize that we cannot have Davis picking up his second foul trying to draw a charge on a 3-on-1 fast break in the first half. Forget that crap, we need him in the game. Just give up the basket and move on. This is a basketball game, not soccer.
- A touch of immaturity. We clearly lost focus when Davis went out, and even a little bit before. There is no excuse for that from this team, they are no longer freshmen, they are sophomores and juniors. We should expect better.
Overall, the Wildcats played well, especially in the second half. I loved our response to the Ole Miss challenge, and the Wildcats showed why they are the #1 team in America. Kyle Wiljer really showed what he brings by making open threes and some good moves closer to the basket that kept Ole Miss from building a significant lead.
All things considered, I'm pleased with the victory and it was a convincing one. The Wildcats seem to be on the right path to get to the NCAA tournament as a top seed, and the SEC regular-season title is no longer really in doubt -- it is inconceivable that Kentucky will lose their last four games. After that, win or lose in the SEC Tournament, Kentucky is likely to be in an excellent place to challenge for the 2012 NCAA Tournament title, and hang #8.