It was the first time this season UK has looked deserving of their preseason ranking. Despite all the hype, the Cats have been slow out of the gate. But they turned it on tonight against the Hawks.
Kentucky got off to a hot start with a 14-0 run to take a 20-6 lead early. However, it looked like the same thing all over again as the Cats let the Hawks right back into the game as the lead shrunk to just 22-18.
Then, UK finally stepped on the gas and never looked back. They doubled up Monmouth in the first half 44-22 thanks to great three-point shooting and even better defense.
And they didn’t slow down in the second half. The only thing UK did differently was get more baskets inside the three-point line when they went cold from three. And the defense was lights out.
It was by far the best the Cats have looked all year on the defensive side. Monmouth is 0-7 and they are a poor offensive team, but it doesn’t matter. Kentucky’s defense had been embarrassed by Transy and IUP, so it was nice to finally see them put together a full 40 minutes on that end of the floor.
Offensively, Kentucky played well. It isn’t necessarily an area of concern, but UK did shoot the three ball a lot better tonight. And it was even better to see them attack the basket when the shots stopped falling from outside.
Tyler Herro was excellent. And not just on the offensive end, but more on that below. Quade Green finally found his stroke as he knocked down a career-high 4 three-pointers.
Reid Travis was his usual bully-self. He has slowed down a bit since the beginning of the year, but he’s still providing quality minutes and crashing the glass.
Lastly, Keldon Johnson and PJ Washington looked a bit off at the start of the game, but by the end of it they both put up solid numbers.
All in all, it was a great performance by the Cats. It’s about time as fans have been begging to see them get hot and put a team away. The improved defense was definitely the key to this one.
Hopefully, we see more games like this one. Saturday won’t be as easy as UNC-Greensboro is a solid team, but if the Cats play like they did tonight they won’t have any problems.
Tyler Herro was awesome tonight. And he did it in all facets of the game. He was far from the defensive liability he was labeled as going into the season. And he did a lot more than just shoot the lights out.
Herro got going early by knocking down a three, but he didn’t stop there. He jumped the passing lane and stole the ball for a breakaway basket and then hit another three in transition. This was part of that early run and boy was it fun to watch.
Herro finished with 16 points on 6-10 shooting, but his most impressive stats came on the other end of the floor. He totaled eight rebounds and five steals showing he’s more than just a shooter.
This wasn’t the first game Herro’s been extremely active on defense and it’s been great to see. He plays hard all 40 minutes and you just can’t take him off the floor when he plays like this.
Herro seems to have been a spark for this team on both ends of the floor. Now, it’s time for them to continue to trend up. Go Cats!