Kentucky Wildcats 84 at Mississippi Rebels 70: Victory Is Ours

Spruce Derden-USA TODAY Sports

The Wildcats tried to make the transition from good to great, but for now, we have to settle for good.

Okay, well, what looked like an easy game for the Kentucky Wildcats after the first half became a bit of a blood-pressure test in the second. But the Wildcats were not to be undone tonight. This game really wasn't as close as it looked at one point when the Mississippi Rebels went on a big run. But that big run is an annoyance.

Ole Miss deserves a ton of credit — they flat did not want to lose this game. They were burried by a fusillade of Kentucky 3's and dunks all night long. They refused to roll up the streets in Oxford, and came back with flair and intensity. It wasn't enough by a good bit, but it validates the wariness of many of us in the Big Blue Nation about going on the road against this dangerous team.

Box score

Quick observations

  • Turnovers. We haven't seen 19 turnovers out of this team since very early in the season. I guess we can just chalk this up to one of those games. I sure hope so.

  • The team got bored. It was obvious that they thought they had won, like in an AAU game when the other team just self-destructs down 20 like that, and they stopped playing.  I'm glad you couldn't hear me screaming at the television.

  • Calipari overcoached this game in the second half, and it was profoundly obvious. He did everything but run out on the floor and take the ball away from the players. You have to give them their head a bit, Cal. I know you know what you're doing, but ... wow.

  • I don't know how you teach a team that when they have their foot on an opponent's neck, you finish them. I think that's either in you, or it isn't. I'm a little concerned after this game that it might not be in these guys.

  • Julius Randle. Wow. Making all those free throws under some pressure is the sign of a kid growing up, and on the boards... well, just wow.

  • Transition defense was excellent.  So was transition offense.  That's really good to see.

  • I really loved what we did for about 30 minutes, just like the Florida game. This team is getting close. Either that, or they've peaked. Let's hope for the former.

  • Whither James Young in the second half? He just went to sleep.

  • Learning when to throw the lob and when to be patient still seems to be a struggle.

  • There was a lot of great defensive intensity, and a few minutes of really poor defense. Don't just remember the bad, also remember the good. This may have been as good a defensive effort as Florida, overall, and on the road to boot. I like it. It's not perfect, but I like it nonetheless.

  • Ole Miss is gonna need some new rims from all the dunks. There were eight or nine by UK, and many of them were filthy.

Kentucky is talented, but they've still got some of that AAU leftover flotsam and jetsum from their high school days, and it crops up at the most uncomfortable times. I'd really like to see at least one complete game from these guys before they meed the Florida Gators again, but this was obviously a step in the right direction, particularly on defense.

This was a good win that should have been a great win. I'll take a good win.

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