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Kentucky 83. UCLA 42: Post Game Happy Place

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Kentucky runs over UCLA by a surprisingly lopsided score.

Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

Well, ladies and gentlemen of the Big Blue Nation, that was the Kentucky Wildcats team we have been expecting, but really haven’t seen until just now. We always knew this was a team that should be able to shoot a high percentage from three as well as two, but for the first time all season against a quality opponent, we saw it today, and it was not only menacing, it was out-and-out horrifying — to the other team.  The UCLA Bruins did not help themselves much, but Kentucky was really responsible for dominating them in every imaginable way.

Box Score

Food for thought

Observations

  • There were some standouts today, but this was a team performance that really can’t be divorced from the team concept in any meaningful way. Even guys who didn’t score that much did other fantastic things.

  • When Kentucky shoots the ball well from the perimeter, there is simply no beating them. You have to get something inside, and the Wildcats simply deny you anything close to the basket.

  • This was the second game in a row where the depth of Kentucky really took a major toll on a conventionally-coached team. Coaches are going to have to find a way to buy minutes against Kentucky, and for the most part, that’s going to be near impossible without major consequences. The platoon system has been completely vindicated at this point.

  • No team in college basketball looks good enough to even compete against Kentucky for 40 minutes. Yes, that means you, Duke. And Arizona. And especially Louisville. This isn’t intended to be smack talk, it’s just what we’ve seen, and it could change if UK goes back to shooting badly from the arc or making other mistakes.  But today?  Nobody.

  • 12 turnovers is too many for this team. Look, I don’t know what that is percentage-wise, but we could’ve avoided at least three of them. Hey, no team is perfect.

  • 3-point defense wasn’t great in the second half. That was no problem in this game, but we have to focus on every detail — UK has a chance to be nearly unbeatable.

  • Defensive rebounding is one thing UK didn’t do well enough today. The turnovers and 3-point defense were imperfect but good enough, but defensive rebounding is a continuing problem.

  • Having said all that, this was one of the most complete basketball games I have ever seen a team play. It was amazing to watch unless you were a UCLA fan. But in their defense, nobody would’ve been able to beat Kentucky today, or even get within 20. Sometimes, teams just play great. This was one of those times.

I love this team. I know you do as well. I love watching the Wildcats make shots, run and jump, and share the ball. It’s just such a happy season so far, and my only wish is that Alex Poythress were still healthy and could be contributing to this team. But that’s basketball, and Kentucky is making the best of it, as they should.

I’ll have the postmortem a bit later on.