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Georgetown Tigers at Kentucky Wildcats: Postmortem

Kentucky played better against Georgetown than they did in their first exhibition against Pikeville.

Andy Lyons

The final exhibition game is now in the history books, and I would say this Kentucky Wildcats men’s basketball team is about as ready as they are ever likely to be to begin regular season play. That starts against the Grand Canyon Antelopes this Friday as the college basketball season kicks off. This most recent game against Georgetown was not too much different from the earlier game against Pikeville, which we’ve linked below for easy comparison, but there are a couple of significant differences that need analysis

There wasn’t much to criticize in this game, other than perhaps the rather slow start Kentucky got off to offensively. Georgetown, unlike Pikeville, was not wildly undersized, as they had several players at 6‘6" and above, and most of them played. They were also physically much more substantial than Pikeville in the front court, as well as being taller.

But the size did not help them against Kentucky’s vastly superior athletes, not to mention their superior size at every position. Georgetown gave us what they could, but in the end, they simply didn’t have enough to offer to keep the game competitive for more than ten minutes or so.

Box score

Georgetown at Kentucky box score

Courtesy of

Four Factors

Georgetown at UK - Four Factors

  • Kentucky’s shooting was lights-out, and they held Georgetown under 40%.
  • Much better defensive rebounding percentage over the taller Tigers. That’s good to see.
  • Kentucky got almost half their misses. They need to keep rebounding like this and it will be smooth sailing this season. We know that’s not likely, though.
  • Turnover percentage under 15%. Excellent.
  • Free throw rate was much better this game than last. You have to think Calipari emphasized that.

Team observations

  • 3-point shooting was splendid. If UK can make threes at 35%+ this season, I don’t see how they can lose more than a game or two.

  • Defensive intensity was really good, consistent, and focused. This was a stifling defensive effort that needs to be fully acknowledged. It wasn’t perfect — too many times players were caught with their hands down on the perimeter and the help defender was engaged too often — but for this point in the season, it was really fine.

  • Offensively, I thought Kentucky was a little bit careful. Too many passes can be as bad as too few. Still, you have to like a 69% assist rate.

  • I thought Kentucky had too many personal fouls in this game as a team.

  • Solid free throw shooting overall. Most of the attempts were made in the first half, and UK shot 83%. In the second half, they were only 2-7, but four or five of those came at garbage time.

  • Very nice mix of 3-point to 2-point attempts — 37.5%. That’s a good ratio for this team. It’s important that UK shoot at least 33% or so of their shots from the perimeter to keep the defense from sagging and zoning all the time.

Individual observations

  • Aaron Harrison had a splendid game. He only missed three shots, made 5 of 7 from the arc, and had 17 points, 5 assists and only one turnover. Game ball.

  • Karl-Anthony Towns made all five of his shots and had 8 rebounds. He was only 3 of 5 from the line, though, which is not good for him. Still, really good game.

  • Willie Cauley-Stein played really well, and did not have a single turnover. His 13 points were mostly dunks, but he also had a really sweet baseline jumper with nice touch. He intimidated a lot more shots than he blocked, and he blocked three.

  • There’s not much to complain about when it comes to Alex Poythress. He made all but one of his 7 shots, had 15 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, a block and no turnovers. Superb game, and he did it very quietly and efficiently.

  • Andrew Harrison had a really good game other than the fact he fouled out with over 7 minutes remaining. He didn’t score much, but he made all his free throws (which means he was getting to the rim) had 6 assists and only 2 turnovers.

  • Marcus Lee was perfect for his 3 attempts for 6 points, had 6 rebounds and only one turnover.

  • Devin Booker really showed, as he has all year, that he can be a difference maker both offensively and defensively. He had 3 steals to go along with 11 points and 4 assists.

  • Dominique Hawkins got ten big minutes, and made his only 3-point attempt and was 1 of 2 from the line.

  • Derek Willis played well in his 8 minutes, tallying 7 points on 3-5 shooting, 1-2 from the arc.

  • Trey Lyles played a great game. He had 14 points, made both 3-point attempts including a really nice curl move. I think he’s going to be perfect at the three spot this season.

  • Dakari Johnson did what he always does — dominated on the glass (double-double with 12 and 10). He also made his free throws — 6-8 from the line, which is stellar for him. What he did not do well was make shots. 3-6 from where he shoots them against a team like this is not impressive.

  • Tyler Ulis played fine. He had 4 assists and zero turnovers, but he missed his three shot attempts, and two of them were forced.

  • EJ Floreal had a really nice dunk, and got five minutes. That’s a bit more than the garbage time minutes of Tod Lanter, Sam Malone and Brian long.

Tying it all up

Exhibition season is in the books. Kentucky is now as ready as they are going to get to begin the games that count, and it looks to me like they are plenty ready enough to handle their early competition. After the first couple of games against relative lightweights, the Wildcats get their first true test of the season against the Kansas Jayhawks at the Champions Classic in Indianapolis.

Overall, I think these exhibition games showed us relatively little, but that’s the nature of the beast these days. Back when the Wildcats were playing European squads and teams like Athletes in Action, the games were a lot more competitive and told us a lot more. But competition against NAIA schools is certainly better than constant scrimmages against each other.

But all that’s behind us. Now it’s time for the Wildcats to begin their campaign for NCAA Tournament championship #9.