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5 more thoughts and postgame notes from UK Basketball edging Harvard

Takeaways from Kentucky’s 79-70 victory over Harvard

NCAA Basketball: Harvard at Kentucky Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

Kentucky faced off Saturday against a Harvard team that has more talent than their record shows. Kentucky continued to look better as the game went on and came away with a 79-70 victory, improving to 7-1 on the season.

The Cats managed to get up 20 at one point, but they failed to maintain the big lead and let the Crimson back into the game, making the final score closer than it should have been.

Here are some more thoughts from the game

Kevin Knox and Hamidou Diallo are starting to show what they can do

Kevin Knox has been the Cats most consistent player this season and once again showed that he is the best player on the floor. However, Diallo has had back to back good games and is starting the get into a rhythm offensively and being more of a consistent option for Cal.

Kentucky continues to give up open three-point shots

A consistent fault with this team has been is inability to guard the three-point line and tonight it showed up again. Harvard was able to keep themselves in the game by knocking down the open looks from deep. Kentucky gave up 12 threes and Harvard missed some wide-open shots down the stretch. This team needs to take advantage of their length and force opponents to put the ball on the floor and make them take tough contested mid-range shots.

The Cats outrebounded Harvard 37-36

This was not the Cats best performance on the glass. Kentucky was much bigger than Harvard and should have dominated them in this stat. The Cats gave up 12 offensive rebounds and this is something that must be cleaned up or it can cost us some games in conference play.

Kentucky had 9 blocks and forced 15 turnovers

While I said Kentucky needs to take advantage of their length and force tough shots, they did take advantage of it when Harvard would try to score around the rim by blocking shots. Also, this length allows the Cats to poke the ball loose from players and force opponents into turnovers and they did a good job of that against Harvard.

Cats improving at the free-throw line

Free throws have been an issue for the Cats this season struggling to cash in from the line. However, the Harvard game should have the fans optimistic about the free ones moving forward. This also marked the third-straight game in which the free-throw shooting improved, as the Cats have shot 62.5%, 67.9% and now 83% over their last three contests.

Stat leaders from the game

Points: Kevin Knox- 20

Rebounds: Kevin Knox and Nick Richards- 7

Assists: Quade Green- 5

Overall Kentucky shot 26/56 (46.4%) from the field.

Here are the postgame notes, courtesy of UK Athletics:

Team Records and Series Notes

  • Kentucky wins its fifth game in a row improving to 7-1. Harvard is 3-6.
  • This was the first meeting between UK and HU in men’s basketball.
  • Next for the Wildcats: UK travels to the Madison Square Garden to play Monmouth in the Citi Hoops Classic. Game time is noon and it will be televised on ESPNU.

Coach John Calipari

  • Calipari has a 701-194 all-time on-court record.
  • Calipari is now 256-54 at Kentucky.
  • Calipari is 141-6 at Rupp Arena.
  • Calipari is 2-0 vs. Harvard in his career.

In the First Half

  • Kentucky’s starting lineup featured Quade Green, Hamidou Diallo, PJ Washington, Kevin Knox and Nick Richards for the seventh straight game.
  • At the first media timeout Kentucky led 11-7 with Knox leading the Wildcats with five points.
  • Kentucky went on a 7-0 run from 5:22 to 4:15 after Harvard cut the deficit to one point to increase the lead to 39-31.
  • Knox's 16 points are the most by a Wildcat in a half this season.
  • Knox’s third game this season and second in a row that he has reached double figures before halftime.
  • It is the third game in a row that Kentucky has shot 50 percent or better in the first half.
  • Kentucky made 12 free throws, the most made in a half this season.

In the Second Half

  • Kentucky went on a 13-0 run from 11:01 to 8:19 to earn an 18-point lead.
  • Kentucky led by as many as 20 points in the second half.
  • UK did not score a field goal over the final 2:31 of the game and finished 1 of 8 from the field.

Team Notes

  • UK led by as many as 20 points in the game and is 221-4 in the John Calipari era in games that the Wildcats have led by at least 10 points.
  • UK outrebounded Harvard, 37-36, the seventh consecutive game that the Wildcats won or tied the boardwork.
  • UK won points in the paint, 42-20.
  • Kentucky led 15-0 on fast-break points.
  • UK has had more fast-break points than every opponent this season.
  • UK tied it’s season low for fewest turnovers in a game with 10, also achieving that number against Vermont.
  • With a 24-3 advantage in points off turnovers against the Crimson, UK has now had at least a plus-21 edge in that category in consecutive games.

Player Notes

  • Kevin Knox scored 20 points and has scored in double figures in every game this season.
  • It was his second game in a row with at least 20 points. The last Wildcat to do that was De’Aaron Fox against Georgia and Alabama last season at the SEC Tournament.
  • Hamidou Diallo tied his career high of 19 points. It is the second game in a row he has scored in double figures and tied his career high (set last game).
  • Shai Gilgeous-Alexander had 12 points and tied his career best for rebounds (five).
  • It was his third game in a row scoring in double figures.
  • Nick Richards scored nine points and tied his career high for blocked shots with three for a second game in a row.
  • Sacha Killeya-Jones was 4 of 4 from the field and scored a season-high nine points. He also had two rebounds and two blocks in 18 minutes of action.