The Kentucky Wildcats defeated the West Virginia Mountaineers on Saturday with a final score of 83-76. The pace was fast, as expected, and the Wildcats battled back from a 17-point deficit to get their biggest win of the year. Here are 4 things to know from the game.
This was Kentucky’s best opponent, to date.
You could argue that Florida, when playing its best, is a better team than West Virginia. And if you are reading this the following week, West Virginia will likely no longer be a top ten team. But when you look at their defensive intensity, their ability to score on the perimeter and inside, and the athleticism across the board, this Mountaineer team is as good as Kentucky will see before March.
That means a lot for the development of the Wildcats. To make such a dramatic comeback against since a good team on the road shows that they have the toughness to succeed come tournament time. This win will be huge for them come seeding time, and the experience will pay dividends through the rest of the season.
The hostile environment.
I realize that Big Blue Nation takes great pride in Rupp Arena, but the Coliseum at WVU was absolutely rocking on Saturday. One test of any team, let alone a young team, is how they play on the road in hostile environments. Kentucky may have been behind by 17 at one point, but to battle back and get the win in front of a crowd like that is truly impressive.
While there are still road tests remaining in the SEC, there is no environment that will match what the Wildcats faced in Morgantown on Saturday.
The real Kevin Knox.
Kevin Knox led the Wildcats with 34 points on Saturday. He did so by shooting the three, running the floor, and taking the ball to the rack. This is the guy that Kentucky fans have expected to see since the beginning of the season. If this means that he has finally arrived, then that is wonderful news for Big Blue Nation.
After having ten turnovers in the first 12 minutes, Kentucky managed to somehow be tied with West Virginia. Then ended up being down 15 at the half, and behind as much as 17 early in the second half. But then the Wildcats showed something that fans have not seen a lot of this season: they fought.
They fought hard and took the lead for the first time with just over 10 minutes remaining. Then they battled down the stretch in a back and forth game to close out the 7 point victory. Could it be that this team has finally turned the corner?
Now, let’s all breathe a sigh of relief and celebrate!