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Kentucky Wildcats 77, Champagne Chalons-Reims Basket 72: Post Game Thread

Kentucky got a stern challenge from a much-improved Champagne Chalons-Reims Basket today.

Jamie Squire

Well, this was definitely different, and probably for the best. Kentucky got a serious challenge today from Champagne Chalons-Reims Basket, who came in with a bit of a chip on their shoulders and played by far the best basketball anyone has played against UK so far. They looked much more like the professional team they are, and they really took it to Kentucky. Kentucky, however, managed to prevail.

One thing we need to remember is that all Kentucky’s opponents during the Big Blue Bahamas tour have not been playing this year, either. They are just finding their game legs much like Kentucky, and I have been expecting one of these guys to rise up in the second game and show why they are paid to play professional basketball.

Quick observations:

  • Loved Tyler Ulis today, this was his best game. He did make a few mistakes, but he more than made up for them with sharp passing and excellent on-the-ball defense that really bothered CR.

  • Kentucky as a whole shot the ball much better from outside today. That’s a welcome development.

  • Transition defense and floor balance continue to be a big issue. This will need a lot of attention before the games that count start.

  • Dakari Johnson has got to learn to defend the pick-and-roll better.

  • Aaron Harrison was a force to be reckoned with today, and we needed to see that out of him.

  • Alex Poythress had a quiet game, but he deserved one. He has been the work horse in all these games.

  • Devin Booker’s shooting came around. Good to see.

  • Kentucky’s pick-and-roll offense was not great today. Screen-setting is very weak and must improve.

  • This was Kentucky’s “worst” game, but make no mistake, CR was vastly better than they were last time. Kentucky really played a very similar game to what they have the whole time, but the opponent was just much, much better than they were the last time these two met.

  • I think this close game was an excellent test for Kentucky early, and it helped to expose who they guys are that want to be there at crunch time. I think you have to say that Ulis is one of those guys, but so are the Harrisons.

  • I’m very happy Calipari has decided to take most of this trip off, I think it’s good for him, good for the team, and good for his assistants. I commend Coach Cal for doing this, it is typically brilliant of him in ways that will likely pay off down the road.

  • Karl Towns was not quite up to standard today, although again, you have to credit CR, who really had scouted the Wildcats’ tendencies well.

I’ll have a full postmortem a bit later. Talk about your observations below.