Let's chalk it up to Opening Night jitters (everyone else OK with that?), but the Wildcats looked very rusty in a 57-46 victory over Miami (OH) at Rupp tonight.
The storylines for the evening are nothing less than game-saving.
Freshman Perry Stevenson, theoretically spot-starting for the injured Jared Carter or suspended Sheray Thomas, looked like he should never leave the spot. Time and time again, his quick reactions saved defensive lapses, and his seven blocks and five rebounds saved a Kentucky team that outrebounded Miami by just 2 (32-30).
Randolph Morris, battling foul trouble per usual, showed a new dedication to rebounding himself, scoring his second career double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds.
The other storyline? Sloppy offense and a rough night at the point for Ramel Bradley. Smoov clearly is not yet comfortable setting up the offense, or maybe it's the offense itself. Who knows, but his 5 assists were overshadowed by 6 turnovers.
Joe Crawford saved Kentucky early, when, trailing by as many as 10 in the first half, he simply took the ball and put it in the hole. He's going to have to do that a lot this year, I think. What he cannot do is disappear, like he did today in the second 20 minutes.
All in all, an ugly opening victory over a team that likes playing ugly, slow-down ball. That doesn't excuse poor play. But I maintain that the long layoff left the kids playing tight, especially those appearing for the first time at Rupp for a game that counts.
I think that having a quick turnaround for Friday's game is a good thing. I expect a better showing in that one. At least, I sure hope so.