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UK Wildcats Basketball: 5 more thoughts and postgame notes from comeback win over WVU

The Cats score a signature win in Morgantown.

NCAA Basketball: Kentucky at West Virginia Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports

What a game! That was one of the best games I have watched in awhile.

Kentucky made a trip to West Virginia to play the No. 7 team in the nation and was a 10-point underdog. Before the game WVU didn’t introduce the Kentucky players and they all know exactly who they are now after the Cats comeback to win it 83-76 in a hostile environment.

The game for sure didn’t start how the Cats wanted it to as right after the tip a turnover led to 2 quick points for WVU. At the under 16 timeout WVU had a 10-7 lead on the Cats and were still up at the under 12 break 15-13.

With 8:11 left in the half Kentucky was down one, 20-19 and from that moment the game got ugly fast. WVU outscored Kentucky 28-14 the rest of the half and it felt like they couldn’t miss. The Cats were playing good defense, but the shots kept falling and WVU went into halftime with a commanding 48-33 lead.

To all the people that constantly say, “John Calipari can’t coach”, go watch the second half of this game again. Kentucky found itself down 17 and then the comeback was on. At the under 16 timeout the lead was down to 12, 54-42.

Kentucky would continue to battle and with 11:31 left to play, a jumper by Shai Gilgeous-Alexander would tie up the game at 56. Both teams battled the rest of the way, but Kentucky looked like an entirely new team and dominated the half for a huge win on the road.

Thoughts on the game

Kevin Knox was phenomenal

Knox finally showed that he is the superstar we knew he could be all year. He poured in a career high 34 points on 11/17 shooting, 5/8 from three, and he was 7/8 at the foul line. He also grabbed 7 rebounds including some big offensive rebounds down the stretch. This is the type of play we knew Knox had in him but just hadn’t seen it yet. If he can continue this level of play this team is hard to beat.

Kentucky outscored WVU 50-28 in the 2nd half

With the way the first half went it looked like WVU could run away with it. However, once Kentucky settled down and Cal made the adjustments that he needed to make (coaching) this team went on an unbelievable stretch to make the comeback and win the game.

Everyone made big plays

We know the standout performer was Knox. However, almost everyone on this team made some huge plays for us. To name a few: Sacha Killeya-Jones made a huge jumper to give us a 60-58 lead with 10 minutes to play, Nick Richards had a huge put back dunk with 33 seconds left to go up 79-74, Quade Green made some huge threes at the end of the first half to keep us in the game, and Wenyen Gabriel grabbed some big rebound throughout the game and played some great defense. These are just a few of the many big time plays that this team made tonight.

Defense was outstanding

Although it didn’t appear like it in the first half, Kentucky wasn’t playing bad defense at all. WVU was just making the tough shots they were taking. For the game the Cats held WVU to 39.7% from the field and completely shut them down in the second half. A very impressive performance on that end of the floor.

This team showed a lot of fight

When this team was down as in the first half it would have been easy for them to jut give up and say its not our night. But this team did the exact opposite and kept fighting the entire game and it paid off. These young Cats aren’t freshmen anymore and all of BBN better get ready for the rest of this season. I am very proud of how they played, and we should all be excited about what we saw in a tough road game tonight.

Here is a look at the postgame notes and milestones, courtesy of UK Athletics:

Team Records and Series Notes

  • Kentucky is 16-5 overall. West Virginia is 16-5.
  • Kentucky leads the series 16-5, and has won three in a row.
  • UK leads the series 2-1 in Morgantown.
  • Kentucky finished the non-conference schedule 11-2.
  • Kentucky is 2-3 all-time in the SEC-Big 12 Challenge.
  • UK is 1-2 in the event on the road.
  • Kentucky is 1-2 vs. top-25 teams this season.
  • Kentucky returns to Southeastern Conference play Tuesday inside Rupp Arena vs. Vanderbilt at 9 p.m. ET. The game will air live on ESPN.

In the First Half

  • Kentucky’s starting lineup featured Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Hamidou Diallo, PJ Washington, Kevin Knoxand Nick Richards for the eighth time this season and sixth straight. UK is 6-2 with this lineup.
  • Kentucky extended its streak of 1,034 consecutive games with a 3-pointer when Knox connected with 19:32 on the clock.
  • Knox scored Kentucky’s first seven points of the game.
  • After Kentucky got within a point of West Virginia’s lead at 20-19 with 8:06 to play, WVU used a 15-1 run over 3:11 to take a 35-20 lead.
  • Kentucky committed 11 turnovers in the first half.
  • That was the fifth time this year UK committed 11 turnovers in the first half. UK’s most turnovers in any half was 13 in the second half vs. ETSU on Nov. 17
  • West Virginia made seven first-half 3-pointers.
  • The Mountaineers entered the game averaging 8.9 made 3s per game.
  • Jevon Carter’s 18 points are the most an opponent has scored vs. Kentucky in the first half since Sindarius Thornwell posted 20 vs. the Wildcats on Jan. 21, 2017.
  • Kentucky trailed by as many as 17 at the 3:50 mark of the opening stanza.
  • UK’s previous largest deficit of the season was 12 against both Utah Valley and UCLA.

In the Second Half

  • Trailing 54-37 with 17:00 to play, UK used a 10-0 run over 1:45 to cut the WVU lead to seven points.
  • After West Virginia answered with a deuce, UK went on another run this time by a 7-0 margin.
  • Stretched over 4:32, UK closed the WVU lead to 52-54 at the 12:01 mark with a 17-2 run.
  • All told, UK used a 22-4 stretch over 6:28 to take its largest lead at 62-58.
  • West Virginia answered with an 8-0 run of its own over 1:07 to take a 66-62 lead.
  • Kentucky outscored West Virginia 50-28 in the second half.

Team Notes

  • Kentucky came all the way back to win from a 17-point deficit for the first time since a 73-67 win over Vanderbilt on Feb. 28, 2017. That game also saw the Cats down 17 points in the first half.
  • Kentucky’s comeback from a 15-point halftime deficit was the third-largest halftime comeback in school history.
  • UK rallied from a 16-point halftime deficit at LSU on Feb. 15, 1994 for a 99-95 victory in what’s known as the Mardi Gras Miracle.
  • The Wildcats also rallied from a 16-point halftime deficit at No. 13 Louisville on Dec. 18, 2004.
  • The four biggest halftime comebacks in school history have all been on the road.
  • West Virginia shot 39.7 percent from the field, the fifth straight game that UK has held the opponent under 40 percent.
  • UK outrebounded West Virginia 49-34. The Wildcats are 15-1 this season when winning the battle of the boards.

Player Notes

  • Kevin Knox scored a career and game-high 34 points.
  • That was the most by a Wildcat this year, and most by a UK player since De’Aaron Fox scored 39 vs. UCLA in the NCAA Tournament last March.
  • He’s the first Wildcat to score more than 30 this year.
  • It’s the most points for a UK player on the road since Malik Monk had 34 points at Ole Miss to begin the SEC season last year.
  • He scored more than 20 points for a team-best sixth time this season and a second straight outing.
  • Knox’s 15 first-half points tied his most in a half this season. He also had 15 in the first half vs. UIC on Nov. 26.
  • Knox made a career-high five 3-pointers.
  • The previous most 3s in a game by any Wildcat this season was four (by Knox twice, including in the last game vs. Mississippi State, and Hamidou Diallo vs. Virginia Tech)
  • Hamidou Diallo was UK’s second leading scorer with 13 points.
  • Quade Green scored eight points, including two made 3s, had four assists and a steal.
  • Wenyen Gabriel tied his career-high for the sixth time, blocking three shots.
  • He added nine rebounds, six points and three assists.
  • Jarred Vanderbilt snagged a game and career-high 11 rebounds in 11 minutes of action.
  • Vanderbilt has 29 rebounds in 49 minutes this season.
  • He snagged all 11 rebounds in the first nine minutes he played.

Coach John Calipari

  • Calipari has a 710-198 all-time on-court record.
  • Calipari is now 265-58 at Kentucky.
  • Calipari is 13-7 vs. West Virginia in his career.