That's what Kentucky showed none of as they took Georgia to the woodshed Tuesday night. Despite not having Alex Poythress for a second-straight game, UK once again dominated their opponent thanks to big games from Tyler Ulis (14 points, 8 dimes) and Jamal Murray (24 points) while the role players also did their part (22 bench points).
That's typically been the recipe for a win, and the Cats got just that with their 82-48 beatdown of the Dawgs. Here's a look at our quick takeaways from the game.
Matthews Steps up
With UK down one of their key bigs, it seemed like another big like Isaac Humphries or Skal Labissiere would see more minutes. As it turned out, freshman guard Charles Matthews ended up getting more minutes, and he made the most of it with four quick points
He finished the game with seven points and five boards, the kind of stat line that would be a huge plus to this team after he's played sparingly much of his first collegiate season. His 6-6 frame also gives him enough length that UK can play him at 4 sparingly during games and steal minutes when Lee and other bigs are in foul trouble.
Minutes for Everyone
As mentioned above, Alex's injury forced UK to give more playing time to players that don't tend to get a lot of it. At the 10 minute mark of the first half, Matthews, Skal, Isaac and Hawkins had already logged minutes. UK even made it a point to get some of those guys shots to see if they could contribute.
Matthews got two quick shots and Isaac had two post-ups (missed field goal and travel) as he was given a chance to show what he could do. It's clear the Cats are trying to find more contributions from their bench, something they'll need more of if Alex is out significant time.
Oh, and Hawk did this:
I think Dominique Hawkins' ankle is healed. #BBN https://t.co/LFQuJQs8Ci— Scott Charlton (@Scott_Charlton) February 10, 2016
We've become so accustomed to seeing Calipari use six and seven-man rotations by this point in past seasons that seeing nine guys playing that quick is an oddity. Give the challenges this team has faced, it should be much of a surprise, and hopefully Cal can find the right rotation soon as every game becomes critical down the stretch.
This might be the most foul-prone Kentucky team that Calipari has coached. They simply can't stay out of foul trouble, especially when it comes to the bigs.
Marcus Lee picked up two fouls by the 10:41 mark, leaving UK with a major hole at the 5 spot. Isaac and Isaiah Briscoe both had two fouls in the first half as well, but thankfully Murray, Willis and Ulis carried the team and helped push UK to a win.
That won't happen though if key guys keep getting in foul trouble again better teams. These Cats must learn to play smarter without fouling, or else, we'll see at least a few more second-half collapses like we've already seen far too many of.
Defense Steps Up
The Cats clamped down and held Georgia without a field goal for a span of 17:57 without a field goal while missing 22 straight shots.
Let me say that again: 17:57 without a field goal and 22 straight misses. That's something I'm not sure I've ever seen from a UK team, let alone this one with all the deficiencies they've had this season.
By no means was Georgia an offensive juggernaut, but they had scored at least 63 points in all but two games since Dec. 1, and this was their second-lowest scoring effort all season. This was one of their worst offensive showings this season, and that's not something teams have typically had against UK's defense.
As suspect as it's been at times, the Cats' defense is finally looking like the kind of unit that can help this team make a deep tournament run.
Ulis Being Ulis
Thanks to this game being a blowout, Tyler Ulis played 'just' 34 minutes after typically playing closer to 40 minutes most games this year. He still chipped in 14 points on 6-of-11 shooting, marking the fifth time in six games that he's shot 50% or better.
Ulis also had eight assists, the fourth time in his past five games he's had 8+ dimes.
Tyler Ulis putting on a show. #BBN #ThankYouMudiay https://t.co/W2GVosjuOr— Scott Charlton (@Scott_Charlton) February 10, 2016
Pound for pound the baddest man in all of College Basketball. #BBN @UKAthletics https://t.co/4dwdEVwEWI— Scott Charlton (@Scott_Charlton) February 10, 2016
February 10, 2016
I feel like it has to be said every game now: watching Ulis is a privilege, and one we frankly need to be soaking up every game we can. He's probably going pro this year, so any game could be his last in blue if he were to suffer an injury, so enjoy every last moment we have to watch Ulis play.
Focus and Urgency
This was easily one of UK's best performances this season in terms of focus on every aspect of the game, not to mention a sense of urgency that every game requires their best effort from here on out. The Cats thoroughly dominated Georgia in just about every aspect of the game.
UK's fifth turnover (and first of the second half) didn't come until the 9:40 mark as they were as clean with the ball as they've been in any game this season.
Marcus Lee with the slam after a great back pick by Jamal Murray. #BBN https://t.co/QTROSjPpeh— Scott Charlton (@Scott_Charlton) February 10, 2016
Derek Willis just threw a perfect no look 20 ft bounce pass thru traffic. #BBN https://t.co/rIyQEJeMmK— Scott Charlton (@Scott_Charlton) February 10, 2016
The defense was suffocating and the offense was about as crisp as it's been.
This team has clearly a heightened level of urgency and focus with the final stretch of regular-season games arriving. As bad as the Cats have looked at times this season, they're peaking at the right time and look poised for another deep run in March.