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Kentucky Wildcats Morning Quickies: Christmas Day 2018 Edition

Merry Christmas to the Big Blue Nation, and some more thoughts about the big Christmas gift of a victory over the North Carolina Tar Heels.

CBS Sports Classic Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

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 to you, Ashton.

Your Quickies:

Kentucky football
  • Josh Allen continues to gain esteem in mock drafts:
Kentucky basketball

You left out Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.

  • Merry Christmas, Larry.
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