The Kentucky Wildcats had their first true road game of the season in Baton Rouge on Wednesday night.
The young Cats had flashes of brilliance for stretches mixed in with the usual freshman growing pains, but this turned into a hard-fought contest that came down to the wire with the LSU Tigers.
Thanks to some clutch baskets and free throws by Shai Alexander, the Cats escaped with a 74-71 win. Alexander also played some clutch defense on Tremont Waters on his game-tying three-point attempt.
Here are four things to know:
Kevin Knox had his bounce back game.
Kevin finished the game with 16 points and 11 rebounds on 7-12 shooting. He played very aggressive on all sides of the ball, especially scoring and rebounding. He shot a high percentage and it looked like he was much more in the flow this game compared to his last two.
Kevin needed a game like this desperately. He really needed to get some confidence and swagger back in his game. Too many times we saw him lose that while struggling. If Kentucky is going to do anything in March, they’re going to need Kevin playing at his absolute best.
Kentucky turned up the aggression in the second half.
The Cats struggled mightily in the first half against the Tigers. That was mainly due to the fact that they didn’t get to the line once. The reason? Too many jumpers. For some reason the guys continued to pull up for a mid-range jumper instead of taking it to the rim.
That all changed in the second half. Kentucky made sure they attacked the rim consistently and fought hard for every rebound. They took 13 free throws, and grabbed 35 boards. That is how the Cats need to play in order to win a conference that has a lot of talented big guys.
PJ Washington was a man amongst boys tonight.
It was a great night for the Cats big guy, as he scored 18 points and grabbed six redounds. PJ has this swagger about him that screams confidence, especially in big moments.
That and-one to go up two (66-64) with three minutes left was a huge swing in favor of the Cats. PJ should definitely be credited in getting Kentucky this win. If he can keep this level of play up, watch out.
Nick Richards continues to see huge drop in minutes.
It’s been a really bad showing from Nick Richards in the past few games. In reality, we haven’t really seen him play at all. He played less than 8 minutes today and it’s deservedly so. It looks as if he’s getting discouraged out there, and his body language shows it.
Nick is a good player, but he’s going to have to snap out of it if he wants to see more minutes. Calipari has also mentioned multiple times that Nick can’t guard a big man who can shoot. That was evident tonight, so he took him out.
Now, let’s discuss the game!