clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

What we learned from Kentucky's first exhibition against Ottawa

Kentucky looked about as impressive as a team could in an exhibition opener.

Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

Basketball season is back, folks!

Your Kentucky Wildcats took the floor against Ottawa University for their first game of the season tonight and put on an excellent performance, winning the game 117-58. Deeper than the score, let's dive into some of the aspects we learned about this brand new Kentucky team.

These boys are hungry

If we saw one thing out of these kids tonight, it is that these Wildcats play with energy, unselfishness and effort. They've shown a will to learn and a hunger to become better. Most kids come into Kentucky with a set of skills that they use effectively. These kids seem to be different; they allow Cal to work on them and learn to play ways that Cal knows will help them win basketball games.

Jamal Murray is well deserving of #23

You can remember at the UK-UNC alumni game, Anthony Davis went over to John Calipari and said, "you let him have 23?!?!" about Jamal Murray. Cal responded with, "your number ain't retired yet! I hope he's better than you so we can retire his instead of yours." Now, is anybody ever going to be as good as Anthony Davis was at Kentucky? Likely not, but Jamal Murray looked excellent tonight. Tallying up 17 points, 7 rebounds, and 6 assists at halftime, Murray finished with 22 points, 12 rebounds, and 9 assists for a near triple double.

Cal is looking rather spry

Over the years, it's been noticeable how much the stress of leading Kentucky can have on a person. Lately, we've seen Cal growing gray hair, showing those aging aspects. Today, he looked a little different. A full head of black Italian hair, a lot of energy, turning the clock back a little bit, probably because this is the most fun he's ever had with a basketball team. Cal has guys that play to the same style he loves for really the first time in his career. Cal always preaches for his kids to have fun; it's nice to see the ol' coach having a little fun himself.

The guards will get to the rim

Coach Calipari loves for his players to get to the rim, especially his backcourt players. Over the years, Cal has had mostly guards that do work outside of the paint. Not this group of kids; Tyler Ulis, Isaiah Briscoe and Jamal Murray love attacking the rim and are so good when they get there. With 66 points in the paint, 26 fast break points and 32 assists tonight, this has the looking of a team that is absolutely perfect for Calipari's scheme. That is scary to think about.

Alex still isn't all the way back

As we thought would be the case, senior forward Alex Poythress clearly isn't all the way back from his ACL rehab. Anytime you're dealing with a ligament tear, it's going to be a long road to recovery, and while Poythress showed flashes of his beastly self, it was clear he's not all the way back yet.

That's also why junior Marcus Lee got the start at the 4 spot over Poythress. It may end being where Poythress coming off the bench as the sixth man is best for this team, and as long as Poythress gets back to 100%, this will be a true championship contender.

Different team, same fundamentals

A lot of new faces are coming into Kentucky this year, but tonight's game made it appear evident that it's going to be a lot of the same fundamentals as it always is in Lexington moving forward. Kentucky's going to play stout defense, garnering 9 blocks, 10 steals and holding the opponent to 26%FG shooting.  They're going to throw lobs and slam them as Marcus Lee and Skal Labissiere did numerous times tonight. They're also going to stretch it behind the three point line, going 12-22 from range today with Tyler and Murray making 4 each. The bench is going to deep as well, just like last year; the bench unit provided 39 points today.

Overall, a great first performance by your Kentucky Wildcats. This team looks like it's going to be very good in hopes for our ninth national title.

Here is the postgame box score from the win.