Last night’s game between the Kentucky Wildcats and the Grand Canyon Antelopes was the tip-off of the regular season, and the game was pretty much remarkable for … nothing. It went exactly according to Hoyle with the Wildcats getting a large-margin victory over a team who is still in it’s probationary period as a Division I institution.
The Antelopes gave a good account of themselves considering the circumstances, and even though they never threatened the Wildcats, they worked very hard on both sides of the floor, and they gave Kentucky some difficulty scoring. Unfortunately, the ‘Lopes absolutely could not score over Kentucky’s ridiculous size.
What Kentucky did well was defend. What they did not do well was run efficient offense. Despite some of the lopsided numbers you’ll see below, this game saw Kentucky play well below par in a number of areas, considering the competition.
Grand Canyon box
Great job on the offensive glass. Great job. I had to check that number three times. Amazing, but the reason it was so high was because UK missed so many point-blank layups, got the rebound and put it back. So as amazing as it was, it was essentially forced high by poor, inefficient shooting.
Turnovers are too high against a team of this quality. Very displeased with that.
The defense was incredible. That's all there is to it.
Free throw rate is too low for my taste, but I think this is a matter of style. When Tyler Ulis is in the game, there are very few drives, and consequently very few fouls. When Andrew is in, there are more slashes to the basket. The second team as a whole lacks a slasher. That’s going to hold this number down all year.
The ball movement wasn’t great on either squad last night, and it showed on the turnover number. Kentucky was just a little too loose with the ball, and needs to really work on turnovers, which kill efficiency.
Extra passing was largely absent. Kentucky assisted on only 38% of field goals, 13 of 34 made baskets.
Ten blocks is fairly good. I’d have expected a few more, and I suspect some didn’t get credited.
Happy with UK getting 75% of opponent misses. That number should probably be a touch higer, but it’s good enough.
Willie Cauley-Stein played great. He was 6-7 from the field, took zero bad shots, had an assist, zero turnovers, five rebounds, four blocks, and a partridge in a pear tree. Game ball.
Andrew Harrison played very well from a penetrating guard perspective, getting 16 points and 3 assists. He had two turnovers, though, and I’m not loving a 3-2 ratio for him.
Alex Poythress was just okay. He missed some easy shots, but picked up six rebounds. Three turnovers led the team, though.
Aaron Harrison - Aaron played well defensively, but seemed to be passive offensively. He could’ve benefited from some extra passes that never came.
Karl-Anthony Towns was good, but he missed layups. Still, he rebounded well and had as many assists (2) as turnovers, but he also had 3 blocks.
Dakari Johnson was a glass-eating Leviathan. That’s the good news. The bad news is that half his offensive rebounds (he had 8) were his own shots that he missed.
Trey Lyles played a really good game with a nice pace. He made 5-6 2-point shots and 1-4 3’s for 14 points and 4 rebounds. The freshman is really showing why he was ranked so high last year.
Devin Booker had probably his worst game as a Wildcat. He was completely unfortunate offensively and didn’t do much besides miss shots.
Tyler Ulis was what he always is — a pass-first ball-control point guard who plays at a nice pace and defends well. The ‘Lopes rattled him with traps, however, and he’s too small to pass out of them. He has to learn to anticipate those.
Marcus Lee was another serial layup misser, but he did some good things out there, moving his feet very well when defending the perimeter. I thought he played well, overall, but didn’t manage a block.
Dominique Hawkins played only a few minutes and missed his only shot, an open 17’ jumper.
Tying it all up
This wasn’t the kind of game we need to see from Kentucky. Their offensive rebounding was so incredibly brutal that it made the game uncompetitive, but if this had been a bigger, stronger team instead of a Division I probation squad, Kentucky would’ve been challenged. Calipari did put in his "late game" squad, probably just to get used to making the substitution, and that didn’t have any impact on a game already decided by the time he made the move.
I thought Kentucky looked a little listless and greedy, and that needs to come to an abrupt halt. The only way this platoon system works is by sharing the ball and making good decisions, and playing as hard as you can while you’re in there. The defense proves that the Wildcats were working as hard as they can, but the offense has to be more efficient for both squads.
Next game: The Buffalo Bulls tomorrow.