Kentucky entered the game against Troy on Monday with a 3-1 record and the fans wanting to see one main thing from these young Cats; improvement.
While they did better in areas, they still showed that they are a long way away from being where they need to be. However, it is a long season, and Cal has proved it time and time again that he is more than capable of taking a young team and turning them into a championship contender.
In the end, the Cats improved to 4-1 with a 70-62 victory over the Troy Trojans.
In the first half, Kentucky came out of the gate much faster than they have in the first few games this season. Instead of getting in a hole early on they went into the first official TV timeout with a 14-8 lead over Troy. However, the cold streak didn’t go unseen in the first half as after the Cats hot start they would end the half much like they had been starting games.
The defense was much improved for the Cats holding Troy to 25 first half points. While Kentucky only had one steal and no blocks the amount of shots that were altered by the length of the Cats really made it tough for Troy to get a clean look at the basket. Despite the cold end to the half the Cats defense prevailed and Kentucky took a 41-25 lead into the locker room.
Calipari was extremely pleased with the way his team rebounded in the first half and noted that the rebounding is allowing them to get out in transition and get quick easy baskets on the other end.
First half leaders and team stats for the Cats:
Points: Wenyen Gabriel- 8
Rebounds: Hamidou Diallo- 7
Assist: PJ Washington and Quade Green- 3
Kentucky shot 16-37 (41.7%) in the first half and outrebounded Troy 32-17.
In the second half, the Cats struggled for majority of the half. They never got into a rhythm and had issues holding onto the ball as they had 11 second half turnovers compared to only 5 in the first.
The shooting woes from the end of the first half remained in the second as they seemed to have a hard time scoring the ball, especially when the stopped getting the ball into the lane. As the game winded down you could tell the freshman mentality was still there for the Cats as Troy was able to cut into the lead and with only 3:05 left in the game the Trojans cut the lead back into single digits making it a 68-59 game. As the year goes on they will have to develop a winning mentality and not let up until the final buzzer goes off.
Despite the offense struggling to have much of an identity for most of the night the defense did look better than what we have been seeing. It was nowhere perfect, but they did a much better job of rotating on the perimeter and not allowing Troy to have wide open threes like we had seen in the first four games.
Team stat leaders and team totals:
Points: Kevin Knox- 17
Rebounds: Hamidou Diallo- 10
Assists: PJ Washington- 4
Overall the Cats shot 26-59 (44.1%) from the field and improved from the line going 15-23 (65.2%). Also, the Cats did a much better job on the glass outrebounding Troy 53-30 for the game with 15 being offensive rebounds.
- Kentucky has to do a better job in half court sets. When in transition the Cats are deadly, but when they have to set up an offense they really start to struggle for a rhythm.
- The rebounding was much improved. In the first four games the Cats struggled to rebound the ball but tonight they showed they are capable of rebounding they just have to do it consistently every game.
- Turnovers are still a problem. Much like the Kansas game the Cats had a hard time holding onto the ball, turning it over 16 times. For this team to be really successful they are going to have to do a much better job of taking care of the ball.
Here’s a look at the update season stats for the Cats:
And here are the postgame notes and milestones, courtesy of UK Athletics:
Team Records and Series Notes
- Kentucky is 4-1. Troy is 2-3.
- This was the first meeting between UK and Troy in men’s basketball.
- Next for the Wildcats: UK continues the five-game homestand on Wed. Nov. 22 as the Wildcats play host to Fort Wayne. Game time is 8 p.m. and it will be televised on the SEC Network.
In the First Half
- Kentucky’s starting lineup featured Quade Green, Hamidou Diallo, PJ Washington, Kevin Knox and Nick Richards for the fourth straight game.
- Tied 8-8, Kentucky took control with an 8-0 run, giving the Wildcats a lead they did not relinquish. UK forced seven straight missed shots by the Trojans during that stretch.
- Green swished a pull-up jumper at the buzzer and UK went to intermission with its largest lead, 41-25. It is also UK’s largest first-half lead of the season.
- Kentucky’s 41 first-half points were its most in a first half this season.
In the Second Half
- UK extended the lead to 21 points on three occasions, the last at 66-45, before Troy made a 9-0 run to cut the lead to 66-54.
- The Trojans eventually reduced the advantage to eight points at 70-62 with 1:08 remaining, but there was no scoring in the final minute.
- Troy scored 62 points tonight. Under Coach John Calipari, the Wildcats are 149-5 when limiting opponents to 63 points or less.
- UK dominated the rebounding, 53-30, the fourth consecutive game that the Wildcats won or tied the boardwork.
- Kentucky grabbed a season-high in rebounds.
- UK limited Troy to just 4 of 27 on 3-point shots, 14.8 percent.
- An interesting trend is the number of 3-pointers that opponents are launching. Through five games, UK opponents are averaging 26.6 3-point attempts per game. The school record for most 3-point attempts by opponents is 22.5 per game in 2006-07.
- Kentucky’s 20 bench points were a season high.
- Kevin Knox led the Wildcats with 17 points. He has scored double figures in all five games this season.
- Quade Green tallied 13 points, adding three points and three assists.
- Wenyen Gabriel had a season-high 12 points and pulled down six rebounds.
- Nick Richards had an efficient game, producing eight points and eight rebounds in 12 minutes of action.
- Hamidou Diallo had eight points and a career-high 10 rebounds.
- Shai Gilgeous-Alexander had a career-high five rebounds.
Coach John Calipari
- Calipari is now 253-54 at Kentucky.
- Calipari is 138-6 at Rupp Arena.
- Calipari has a 698-194 all-time on-court record.
- Calipari is 1-0 vs. Troy in his career.