The Kentucky Wildcats played a really tough Texas A&M team at home tonight. In a game that came right down to the wire, the Cats prevailed with a 74-73 victory.
Here are four things to know:
Shai is the leader of this team.
Without Shai, the first half would’ve been a blood bath. With 12 points, 3 rebounds, and 3 assists, Shai kept Kentucky in the game. On top of all that, he was on the floor for the entire first half, playing 19 out of the 20 min.
With Quade being out, Shai had a big challenge tonight, and he did not disappoint. Does this mean he’s the starter from here out? I think so. Gilgeous-Alexander continues to be Kentucky’s most valuable player on both sides of the floor. Look for Cal to give Shai the keys to the offense down the stretch of games from here on out.
Hamidou Diallo finally came to play.
Hamidou’s last 3 games has seen him play well under his potential. His scoring total dropped from 10 against Georgia, to 7 against LSU, and then 5 against Tennessee. Today he ended with 18 points while making some huge shots and plays to keep the Cats in the game during the second half.
This game was a true nail-bitter, but Hami never seemed phased. While watching him play, he seemed eager to get the ball in big moments. This is something you love to see, especially from a freshman playing in one of the bigger games of the year at home.
Execution down the stretch of the game.
Kentucky managed to make all the right plays at the end to pull it out. They hit six free throws in a row to keep the game tied, they caused a couple of turnovers on defense, and they hit the shots they had to have to win.
Despite playing a bizarre first 35 min, the Cats really stepped up in the last 5. Yes, the game was at home, but it’s still great to see this young team play big when they really needed to.
The Cats are lacking a true offensive identity.
Throughout the game, Kentucky just never got in a flow on offense. Unfortunately, this is starting to become a trend. Too many times we see this team play indecisive when they’re on offense.
You never really know if they’re going to focus on their inside game, mid range, three-point shot, etc. Because of this, it prevents the Cats from ever taking over the game on offense. These young guys still have a lot of work to do if they’re going to compete for a national championship.
Now, if your heart's still beating, let’s talk about the much-needed win!