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Kentucky Basketball: Takeaways from the win over Cleveland State

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The Cats were draining threes from way downtown, the passing was great, and the rebounding looked improved.

NCAA Basketball: Cleveland State at Kentucky Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

The Kentucky Wildcats didn’t mess around with Cleveland State, as they beat them soundly 101-70.

The team went on a three-point barrage (led by Malik Monk), the defense was impressive as usual, and there were lots and lots of alley-oops. This team looked as unified and as complete as one could every hope for in November. Here are some takeaways from the game.

The Cats couldn’t miss from deep early
Kentucky appeared to be on a mission to score all of their points from deep in the first half. They were pulling shots from the NBA three-point line, and they simply couldn’t miss.

Kentucky’s three-point barrage was led by Monk, who finished the game 4-6 from deep, accounting for nearly half of the team’s 9 threes on the day. Mychal Mulder also impressed from deep, as he came off the bench to make 3 shots from deep.

The team shot just 37.5% from three-point range for the entire game, but their early success is a promising sign after seeing them struggle from deep recently. Shooting as a whole was a great success, as the team shot over 50% once again, going 38-73 (52.1%).

No Isaiah Briscoe, no problem
Briscoe was a late scratch from the lineup with a back injury, and I expected the Cats to take a little time to dominate due to the fact that their leader wasn’t on the floor.

With Dominique Hawkins stepping in, Kentucky didn’t miss a beat. They were as dominant as expected from start to finish. Kentucky was expected to miss Briscoe’s scoring this game, but Malik Monk solved that problem by scoring 23 points, and he was aided by De’Aaron Fox, who had 16.

Mulder also had some extra time in the game due to the injury, and made good use of it, scoring 13 points. It’s great to see that even without Briscoe’s leadership and scoring, Kentucky can be just as dominant as ever.

The next man up mentality worked pretty well this time.

Kentucky finally rebounded well
UK’s rebound margin hasn’t been that great so far this season, but today they out-rebounded Cleveland State by 11. This was in part due to the fact that Wenyen Gabriel turned in a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds (he also had 6 assists). Isaac Humphries helped out with 9 rebounds, as did Bam Adebayo with 7. The big men seemed more committed than ever to cleaning the glass.

The Wildcats are the most exciting team in the country to watch

Kentucky has more athleticism than any other team in the nation. If you doubt that, just watch the highlight reel for today’s game.

In case you’re wondering, Fox did indeed hit his head on the backboard. It’s plays like this that show how athletically gifted Kentucky is. There’s no one that can beat them when they’re doing things like that. Between Fox’s speed, Monk’s dunking ability, and the length of pretty much every player, each trip down the floor is a SportsCenter Top 10 moment waiting to happen.

This team’s chemistry is as strong as it gets
One of the easiest ways to gauge how well a team gels together is the way the ball is moved around the court. Kentucky’s alley-oops today showed that they have incredible chemistry and unspoken communication. Kentucky made 38 field goals today, and 25 of those came off of an assist. As is usual with this team, a lot of those assists were highlight reel plays, like this one.