Looking back on last year's game against Ole Miss, all I could remember was Stefan Moody hitting all those threes and how close the game ended up being at the end.
Thankfully, Saturday night was nothing like that with the Cats winning running away, 83-61. Here's my take on The Good, The Getting Better, and The Unfortunately Still Ugly.
The Good: Tyler Ulis and Marcus Lee
This is starting to become a running theme for the season. Tyler Ulis played out of his mind last night, and the phrases "Oh my word," "This is crazy," and "That kid is just special" were heard often where I was sitting.
We all knew this was going in for Tyler Ulis. #BBN @UKAthletics https://t.co/5XKkMGdMeb— Scott Charlton (@Scott_Charlton) January 3, 2016
Ulis finished the game with 20 points, 10 assists, 6 steals, 3 rebounds, and only 3 turnovers. Tyler became the first player at UK since John Wall in 2009 to have a 20 point/10 assist game. He also did an outstanding job defending Stefan Moody, holding him to just 8 points in the first half and shooting just 6-9 from the field for the game while also forcing him into 5 turnovers.
Marcus Lee had several dunks last night that made me break press row etiquette. He finished the game with 13 points, 9 rebounds (3 of them offensive) and 2 blocks.
Ulis to Lee. Rinse and repeat. #BBN @UKAthletics https://t.co/OCE8vhQgL9— Scott Charlton (@Scott_Charlton) January 3, 2016
Marcus Lee cleaning up. #BBN https://t.co/wPH7TBCtI3— Scott Charlton (@Scott_Charlton) January 3, 2016
Over the last 4 games, Lee is shooting 73% and has 32 rebounds. He has stepped up in a huge way and continues to improve every game, showing just how much hard work and patience pays off.
The Getting Better: Skal
Shortly after checking into the game, Skal ripped an offensive rebound out of an Ole Miss player's hands and went back up for a huge dunk that had Rupp rocking like he just hit a game-winning shot.
Now THAT is the Skal we all expected. #BBN https://t.co/0LbsFMPWll— Scott Charlton (@Scott_Charlton) January 3, 2016
You instantly knew at that time that Camp Cal obviously did wonders for him. He finished the game with 9 points and 3 rebounds, all of them offensive. More importantly though, there were glimpses of toughness and fight that we haven't seen in a while, and that, to me, is promising.
Coach Cal in the post game press conference said last night was a "first step" for Skal, but I think it was a big step. The "emotional girl" in me came out a time or two during the game because I was so proud of Skal for overcoming and starting the process of getting back to where we know he can be.
Things will only get better from here.
The Unfortunately Still Ugly: Free-Throw Shooting
The Cats shot a mere 50% from the free-throw line Saturday night. I think this proves the point that unfortunately Camp Cal isn't the cure-all for everything. A lot of things improved, and we were able to see that last night, but free throws still need some work.
While talking about Camp Cal and how the team is able to solely focus on basketball, Coach Cal jokingly addressed the free throw situation after looking at last night's stats: "We worked really hard."
Last night's game was a great way to start SEC play, and as one of my favorite sports talk show callers says, "It was a Jim dandy of a game." It was an absolute dream come true, and I can't wait to do it again.