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Winthrop Eagles 52 @ Kentucky Wildcats 89: Postmortem

Usually, the postmortem is a report of first impression, something that usually happens without reference to the statistics.  Today, due to the length of time that elapsed between the game and when I was actually able to sit down and write this, it is more of a thorough review.

Best holiday wishes to the Winthrop Eagles and their fans, and thanks for coming to Rupp Arena and giving your best against Kentucky.  Winthrop shot the ball fair in the first half, but abysmally in the second.  Not only that, Kentucky blistered the nets from everywhere, which led to a predictable result.

My first impression of this game was, "Wow.  What a game by Doron Lamb," and upon reflection, that impression still stands.  Setting the freshman scoring record by shooting 92% on 11-12 field goal attempts is simply staggering.  That record has stood for nearly 20 years, and the guy who set it has a jersey hanging in the rafters.  That's the magnitude of the accomplishment by the young Brooklynite.  It also seems somehow fitting that he bested another New Yorker, even though he was out of the Bronx.

The Four Factors

Just a quick look at those:

This is the first time all year that I can recall UK lost the ballhandling statistic.  The 'Cats also lost the OR battle against a smaller team.  This game had a serious dearth of free throws, which can be partially explained by UK's excellent passing in lieu of taking it all the way.


  • Doron Lamb.  When you miss only one shot out of 12 attempts, 8 of which were 3's and make all your free throws, you have done more than enough for the game ball.
  • DeAndre Liggins.  He only scored 9 points, but he had just as many assists against only 2 turnovers.  A 4.5-1 A/T ratio is getting it done.  He also managed 3 rebounds 1 steal, and made all his free throws.
  • Brandon Knight.  Knight came back from a scary knee bruise and had a solid game.  The only real knock against him was that he had more turnovers (4) than assists (2).
  • Jon Hood gave some really good minutes and garnered some praise from the coach.  It would be inappropriate for me not to echo that.
  • Eloy Vargas had a very good game.  8 points, 2 offensive rebounds for a total of 3, and 3 blocks.  Very productive minutes for the big Florida junior.

Other observations:

  • Darius Miller once again disappeared offensively, but then again, when a guy is as hot as Lamb, everyone suffers by comparison.  Still, only one FG out of 4 shots for the junior is not what we need.  His rebounding, though, was excellent.
  • Josh Harrellson did just what he is supposed to -- get rebounds.  He is Kentucky's most valuable non-scorer.
  • Terrence Jones again struggled against competition he should be dominating.
  • Kentucky's defense really wasn't as good as the percentages make it look.  We really need to do a better job on the pick-and-pop on the baseline that the Eagles ran over and over for a short baseline jumper.  We couldn't defend it.
  • 17 assists?  Are you kidding me?  Where has this been all year? Over half of UK's baskets were assisted.  This is a very promising sign.

Overall, this was an impressive offensive performance by Kentucky, but the defense was not as good as it looks in the stats.  Kentucky's steals% is really low, and this was by far the worst job UK has done all year taking the ball away.

But offensively, this was a tour-de-force.  It almost doesn't matter what happens when you shoot this well, except to the coach.  Kentucky's defense wasn't loathsome, but it could have been better.  The blazing-hot shooting made almost everything else far less important.  What's the old saying -- "Good shooting makes up for a lot of other mistakes?"

Still, I am really in love with the passing and ball movement in this game.  It was much the best of the year, and made Kentucky look unstoppable offensively.

Go, 'Cats.