This was one of those home games that went the way you expected to. One thing this Kentucky team has shown it can do is beat teams they are supposed to beat. That's what they did tonight.
Thanks to the BCS Champion Auburn Tigers for coming in to Rupp Arena and giving Kentucky all they had. The Tigers are really shorthanded because of injuries and some unfortunate non-qualifiers who would have made a difference. I think it's important to recognize that through all that misfortune, Auburn did not give up and worked very hard under the guidance of Coach Barbee.
There was a lot to like in this game, and quite a few things not to like. I don't think that overall, the Wildcats played a very good defensive game. The statistics will probably indicate they did, but Auburn is a poor shooting team that can make a very good effort look not so great. In this game, Brandon Knight and Doron Lamb got beat repeatedly off the dribble. That kind of drives me a little crazy, because these guys are just not as far along defensively as I thought they might be.
More after the jump.Superlatives:
- Terrence Jones set the freshman single-game scoring record with 35 points off the bench, breaking Doron Lamb's record set back in December vs. Winthrop. Jones has just got to find a way to be more consistent. When he is making shots, his defense becomes great, his rebounding gets better, he makes free throws, and he just becomes the best player on the floor. When he is having trouble getting touches or scoring, he disappears on defense, misses free throws, and dogs it up and down the floor.
But for this game, he gets the game ball.
- DeAndre Liggins didn't make much of an impact on the statistics, but he made Earnest Ross, Auburn's leading scorer, disappear.
- Doron Lamb pretty much played like he always does -- made shots and made plays. Defensively, he wasn't particularly good tonight.
- Brandon Knight had an off game all the way around. He could not seem to finish around the rim, he defended poorly, and just generally didn't play up to par.
- Darius Miller was excellent in the first half, just okay in the second. He was very physical, though, and I did like that. He was also aggressively looking to score.
- Josh Harrellson had a bit of a regression, looking slow and a little out of it in the first half. He was much better in the second, but I don't think he got a single rebound the entire first half, and that's not a good thing.
- Poor Eloy Vargas. He goes in, gets an offensive rebound and gets his shot blocked. Wash, rinse and repeat two or three times. He did play some good possessions defensively, though, and seemed to show some improvement.
- I thought Jon Hood played really well in limited minutes. I think Calipari could have played him more.
Overall, this is just what the doctor ordered for the Wildcats, and Kentucky played much better than they did down in Athens. They were more aggressive, they made shots, they didn't let little runs bother them. I haven't looked at the stats yet, but I heard that we lost the numerical rebounding battle. That means little, as it's all about percentages -- raw rebound margin is the most useless statistic in basketball -- but if the percentages are upside down, Calipari cannot be pleased.
No matter what, I'm sure Coach Cal saw some things he liked and some things he didn't. He had to like Liggins defense and the team's aggressiveness and physicality. Not so sure he'll be pleased with the rebounding and the ballhandling, which looked pretty loose to me.
Anyway, on to LSU.