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Texas-Arlington Mavericks 44, Kentucky Wildcats 92: First Impressions

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This was yet another dominant defensive performance by Kentucky, at least for one half.

Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

That was interesting, ladies and gentlemen of the Big Blue Nation. We have never seen a first half quite like the one between the Texas-Arlington Mavericks and the Kentucky Wildcats. It was an amazing feat of basketball execution on both ends of the floor. There really just isn’t much else to say about that.

UTA just ran into a buzz saw tonight, something that UK fans have not seen all year on the offensive end, combined with a typically dominant performance by the defense. The decision to drive the ball against Kentucky has failed every single time it has been tried (Just ask Kansas). Still, UTA did not give up, came back in the second half and played Kentucky basically even. That’s a win for them, and we thank them for giving us a great effort.

So Kentucky puts up 55 points in the first half and manages only 37 in the second. That was a touch disappointing, and I thought that the starch really went out of Kentucky after that first half, which is definitely a "teachable moment" for Coach Cal and his band of merry coaches. The Wildcats have to learn, like every team, that when you have your foot on the neck of an opponent, you don’t let up.

Box score

UTA-UK stats

Observations

  • Kentucky shot the ball well from everywhere. I am very happy with the shooting top to bottom.

  • I am mildly disappointed in the effort in the second half. I know the game was out of reach, but you have to forget about the score and play like it’s 0-0.

  • Alex Poythress was clearly not his usual explosive self.

  • WAYYYY too many turnovers. Way. Most of them came in the second half, and were just casual passes that have no business in a basketball game, or showtime passes that have no business in a basketball game.

  • I think UTA did a really good job on the glass in the second half. A lot of that was poor effort by Kentucky, in my view.

  • Devin freaking Booker! He was in Doron Lamb territory.

Overall, this was about what we should expect. UTA is definitely better than 12 points in the first half, and the coach’s decision to go zone really backfired on him, sapping his team of energy and allowing Booker and Aaron Harrison to rain threes on his team’s head. When he went to man-to-man in the second half, they had much more success on both ends — a little too much for my taste.

I’ll have the postmortem tomorrow morning.