Good morning, ladies and gentlemen of the Big Blue Nation. Merry Christmas to you all. May it be blessed.
This will be my 12th Christmas as a contributor to A Sea of Blue, and I want you all to know what a genuine pleasure it has been. When I think back about all the great moments we have shared together over the last decade plus, it’s hard to imagine. I feel particularly fortunate this Yuletide season.
I’m sure a lot of words have been said about the Kentucky Wildcats’ victory over North Carolina on Saturday, but because we are a Kentucky site and analysis is what we do, I have a little more to offer in that regard.
Turnovers are still a big problem for UK, and the 22% turnovers we had against the Tar Heels is by no means an acceptable percentage. That will lose you most games, but because UNC was just as turnover-prone and Kentucky was able to get a high number live-ball turnovers from Carolina, the impact of them was minimized.
Ashton Hagans, who did a lot of great things, did not handle the ball well. Neither did our other point guard, Immanuel Quickley. This has to change.
Kentucky got 86.5% of their available defensive rebounds. That’s a great number. The offensive rebounding was just okay, but Kentucky did a great job of corralling UNC’s misses.
Holding the #5 offensive team in the country to under 0.9 points/possession is the kind of defense John Calipari will be overjoyed to see.
Free throw shooting
This is that rare, perhaps once-in-a-decade Kentucky team where 70% at the line is merely acceptable shooting. This team should shoot in the high 70’s from the line, but for once, the free throw line is not a problem. 68% against UNC isn’t their best, but it’s good enough not to hurt their chances.
The thing that pleased me most about this win was not just the fact that we needed it, but how it was done — almost gate-to-wire and at no point did I feel Kentucky was in danger of losing the game. That may not look dominant on the stat sheet, but it did to my eye.
Another thing that made me happy was the fact I couldn’t point to anyone who mailed it in. Everyone played hard, and mostly well. Even Nick Richards showed up and got most of EJ Montgomery’s minutes with his activity. If he can reprise that versus Louisville, he may well earn more minutes.
Tweet of the Morning
Merry Christmas ❤️— ashton hagans (@H23Ash) December 25, 2018
Merry Christmas to you, Ashton.
- Josh Allen continues to gain esteem in mock drafts:
- Kentucky climbs slightly in the latest AP poll, but still sits behind UNC. If they win versus Louisville in the River City, they will make a bigger move, I expect. But the win over UNC didn’t even budge them in Ken Pomeroy’s rankings.
- Ashton Hagans named SEC Freshman of the Week. No doubt he deserved that after a near-historic performance against North Carolina.
- More Ashton:
In April I said that Ashton Hagans was one of the most competitive prospects I've covered. Same tier as MKG & Josh Jackson. He's most definitely just getting started. https://t.co/UVXzPp5xV0— Evan Daniels (@EvanDaniels) December 24, 2018
You left out Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.
- Merry Christmas, Larry.
Merry Christmas to all of our followers.— Larry Glover Live (@larrygloverlive) December 25, 2018
- Seton Hall defeats Maryland on the road to make our loss to them in NYC look less ugly. The Hall has now won five in a row including the victories over UK and Maryland.
Other Kentucky sports
- Hoops freshman Rhyne Howard earns her fourth weekly honor of the season as SEC Freshman of the Week.
- Moran Moriarty writing for SB Nation thinks (or at least, argues) that the CFB Playoff Committee has gotten 20 out of 20 selections right in its history. I actually agree, I think they have done a good job.
- That someone hasn’t hired [former UK offensive coordinator] Neal Brown away from Troy is … weird.
- Here are the breakout stars in college basketball you should be watching for 2019 according to Sports Illustrated. This is a pretty good list, but there are necessarily some omissions and oversights.
- Merry Christmas, Mike.
To all of my followers who make Twitter a much more pleasant experience than so many insist that it is, I want to wish you a Merry Christmas. Thanks for hanging in with me for nearly a decade.— Michael DeCourcy (@tsnmike) December 25, 2018
- Tennessee tops the CBS Top 25 and one. Kentucky checks in at #18. The Vols are legit, and our games against them this season could be worthy of legend.
Other sports news
- This larger-than-life memorial of the great Secretariat isn’t big enough to compare with his legendary accomplishments.
- Merry Christmas Adrian,
ESPN Sources: Peace on earth and goodwill toward all. Merry Christmas.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) December 25, 2018
- Uranus was once hit by an object twice the size of Earth.
- Did time exist before the Big Bang? A new study suggests it did.
- Quantum gravity “casts doubt on the fate of black holes.”