Kentucky bounced back well from the loss to UCLA with a win over Valparaiso. The Cats got back to their dominant defensive ways, they rebounded well and won the turnover battle. They also showed that their pace isn’t going to slow down this year, and that they can finish with authority, both in the half court and in transition (but mostly in transition). Here are three things to know about Kentucky’s bounce-back win.
UK proved that UCLA’s shooting against them was a fluke
Kentucky dominated Valpo on the defensive end. The Wildcats held the Crusaders to just 34% shooting, and 27% shooting from three-point range. This was a much-needed turnaround for the Cats to improve their confidence after allowing UCLA to shoot over 50%. Kentucky forced Valpo into 19 turnovers, and had 9 blocked shots, like this one from Bam Adebayo.
This is what we’re used to seeing from UK on the defensive end.
Kentucky’s not slowing down after the loss
The Cats’ speed actually hurt them against UCLA, as they weren’t hitting shots and UCLA was, and they gave UCLA way too many opportunities because of the fast pace. They stayed fast-paced tonight, and it worked out. The Cats scored 87 points, and were led by Bam Adebayo, who had 16 points. The pace also meant that they gave up 63 despite holding Valpo to such a low shooting percentage. As long as they’re hitting shots and defending, Kentucky is way too fast to keep up with, and they’ll put up 85-90 points in a heartbeat. Tonight, that’s what they were. And that break-neck pace leads to great transition plays like this.
The Cats finished inside as much as possible
When you’re fast-paced, it’s usually easier to finish at the rim, and that’s what Kentucky does well (as evidenced by their center leading them in points). Tonight they showed that, throwing down dunk after dunk. It didn’t matter if they were in the half court or in transition, Kentucky couldn’t be stopped from finishing in the paint. They put up all kinds of highlight reel plays.