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What we learned from Kentucky's impressive win over NJIT

After a 'meh' performance Friday vs. Albany, we saw glimpses of why this UK team can win it all vs. NJIT.

Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

The Kentucky Wildcats completed their back-to-back stretch of games with an 87-57 win over the NJIT Highlanders Saturday night.

This came after UK scored a 78-65 win over the Albany Great Danes Friday, which was more lackluster and surprisingly close towards the end. This was a much better performance, as UK had several long stretches which they dominated both ends of the court en route to a more comfortable win.

Here are our takeaways from UK's win over NJIT.

Skal can BALL

After Jamal Murray was UK's best player Friday night, it took Skal Labissiere just nine minutes to make it clear he was the best guy on the floor in this one. Skal had 18 points at the 5:00 mark of the first half as he scored on jumpers, hook shots and at the charity stripe with ease in just nine minutes of play to that point.

That's good against air when you realize many of his shots came 3-5 feet from the rim as he showed very nice touch. I would compare Skal's offensive game right now to what Anthony Davis was at the end of his freshman season at Kentucky. As Davis was then, Skal is also getting most of his points on shots and not dunks.

Skal isn't quite the athlete and definitely not the defender Davis was/is, but their offensive games at this point are very similar. The freshman finished this game with a game-high 26 points to go with five boards and two blocks and showed why many consider him the No. 1 pick in the 2016 NBA Draft.

Defense a Work in Progress, but Showing Promise

It was a tale of two defenses in the first half. NJIT had 21 points in the first 5:40, but just seven in the final 14:20 of the half and finished with just 57 the whole game. The Highlanders hit their first six shots with four of them being straight drives at the rim the Cats made poor efforts to contest. This team has enough long, athletic and agile players that can protect the rim and guard the perimeter to make this UK defense one to be reckoned with, but it's far from that point.

Now the question is, will they continue to put the hard work and effort into becoming a great defensive team we saw signs of over that 14:20 span? This was a great test for UK as this NJIT team returned most of last year's team that won at Michigan, went 21-12 and is full of juniors and seniors who have great chemistry. They were very crisp on offense and made several tough plays against a more talented but far younger UK team.

While allowing NJIT to score 21 points in the first eight minutes is concerning, seeing how well UK's defense played after that was a glimpse of how good they can be.

Isaiah Briscoe is a Man

You'd be hard-pressed to find many guards in college hoops that play with as much grit, physicality and toughness as Isaiah Briscoe. Those are all attributes that helped him be ranked the No. 1 point guard prospect in most recruiting services, and they were on display this game.

After missing Friday's game with a bruised knee, Briscoe came off the bench to score 11 points and grab 12 rebounds. 12 boards for a guard is unheard of, and he wasn't afraid to throw his body against others and go down in the paint for tough rebounds.

As Ben Roberts noted, the 'Cats were far more effective on both ends of the floor when Briscoe was in:

There's no question Briscoe needs to be playing starters minutes going forward. Charles Matthews has shown promise, but that third guard spot is Briscoe's.

Derek Willis Keeps Earning Minutes

The impact Derek Willis is making on this team has been a very pleasant surprise for the Cats. After scoring 14 points in 28 minutes of action Friday, Willis got the start vs. NJIT and continued to play well. He blocked a pair of shots and affected several others with his long arms and drilled 3-of-4 three-pointers.

If he can keep making a positive impact on defense and knock down those spot-up threes that will be there, Willis will keep playing double-digit minutes this season and may even get more starts. He's certainly earned another one, even if it is against Duke Tuesday.

Isaac Humphries Losing Minutes

After playing seven minutes throughout Friday's contest, Isaac Humphries didn't even see the floor until the 6:00 mark in the second half vs NJIT. Part of that was likely due to the Highlanders being a small team that saw UK use Alex Poythress at the 5 spot for stretches against.

Humphries has a lot of talent and potential to be an impact player for UK before his career is over. The only question is when/if it is this season, and it looks like it may not. That said, he's going to be an important player at some point this season when UK faces a bigger team and gets into foul trouble, but we won't see him much against smaller clubs.