Good morning, Big Blue Nation.
Yesterday the Kentucky Wildcats scored a big victory over UNC Greensboro 78-61. Normally defeating a non-power five team in your own arena isn’t much news, but the Spartans had the look of a team that could upset the Cats. Especially with Francis Alonso dropped 19 points in the first half.
But then John Calipari started to figure something out: he figured out which guys he needs to be playing big minutes.
The core group that played down the stretch was comprised of Ashton Hagans, Reid Travis, Tyler Herro, PJ Washington, Keldon Johnson, and EJ Montgomery.
Those are the six guys that he’s going to ride. That’s his best group of players.
Depending on line-ups and who has the hot hand, Quade Green and Immanuel Quickley could find their way onto the court for big minutes in the right circumstances. Both guys could give breaks to Hagans, Herro, and Johnson. There are going to be games where Cal will need either, or both, Green and Quickley to produce.
As for Nick Richards, unless the seven footer has some sort of epiphany, he needs to get comfortable on the bench. Cal has his three man rotation of big men and he’s sticking with it. He made it perfectly clear in his postgame remarks that he cannot play Richards if he’s not working hard in practice or if he doesn’t bring it to the game.
I don’t know about you, but I feel pretty good about a six man set of Travis, Herro, Hagans, Johnson, Washington, and Montgomery going forward.
Ashton Hagans is here to put clamps on Francis Alonso. pic.twitter.com/NJiOeC5zcP— Scott Charlton (@Scott_Charlton) December 1, 2018
This is what changed the game yesterday. Hagans came in and gave the Wildcats an identity on defense. This is why he needs the bulk of the minutes at point guard. His offense will come with time and by the end of the season he will be one of the best guards in the SEC.
Reid Travis show and go slam. pic.twitter.com/yeUwUe9tAp— Scott Charlton (@Scott_Charlton) December 1, 2018
Travis was his usual steady self yesterday with 22 points and 12 rebounds. And he put a little flash in his game as well.
Oklahoma wins. Ohio State wins. Can't lie, I just don't see an argument for Georgia. Two-losses. Not a conference champion. What's their best argument? "We almost beat Alabama?" Sorry, this isn't middle school. You don't get juice boxes and blue ribbons for ALMOST winning games— Aaron Torres (@Aaron_Torres) December 2, 2018
I agree with the premise but let’s not pretend that either one of these teams wouldn’t get absolutely run by either Clemson or Alabama. Georgia poses the biggest threat to either team, but that loss to LSU is really hurting them right now.
Kentucky will learn it’s bowl destination today | Lexington Herald Leader- Now that the conference champions are set, the bowl games will be announced today. Kentucky is in line for a good one with a 9-3 record and second place in the SEC East. All signs point to the Citrus Bowl. There will be a four hour bowl show at noon on ESPN so find out the final destination there.
Ashton Hagans changes the game, and maybe the season, for the Cats | Cats Pause- Cal had seen about enough of Alosno when he put Hagans in to guard him. With a great effort, Hagans held Alonso to three points in the second half. Now the Cats have the defensive stopper they so desperately needed and an identity on defense.
Five themes in Kentucky’s win over UNC Greensboro | Cats Illustrated- One of the themes is Tyler Herro’s late game scoring. He hit two clutch three pointers late in the second half to really put the game away for Kentucky. After a slow start, Herro is emerging as the player we saw in the Bahamas.
Strong second half put the Cats over the top | CoachCal.com- The combo of the 1-1-2 press, the veterans, and the offensive efficiency that the Spartans brought to the table provided a big test for the Cats. And they passed with flying colors in the second half.
UK volleyball is oh so Sweet | UK Athletics- The Cats continued their trend of dominant play by sweeping Purdue right out of the NCAA Tournament. The Cats extended their winning streak to 22 in a row.
SEC Bowl projections | Saturdays Down South- The Cats vs. Penn State in the Citrus Bowl would be awesome. Please...Please...Please... not Northwestern again.
College football playoff projections | CBS- Alabama, Clemson, and Notre Dame are locked in at 1, 2, and 3. The committee now has to figure out which team gets the fourth spot. Experts say that will go to Oklahoma and I agree.
Georgia doesn’t deserve fourth playoff spot | USA Today- Unfortunately for Georgia it isn’t about what you could do on the field, it’s all about what you’ve done. And being a two loss team isn’t going to cut it.